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10-03-2010 18:08:43

Commodities and banks help FTSE gain

A woman is seen through a car window as she walks past the London Stock Exchange
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By Jon Hopkins

LONDON (Reuters) - The leading share index added 0.7 percent on Wednesday, buoyed by strength in commodity issues, supported by trade data from China, and in banks and insurers as Wall Street put in an early advance.

At the close, the FTSE 100 was 38.27 points higher at 5,640.57, a 20 month peak, at levels not seen since June 2008. The blue chip index remained over 60 percent above levels hit almost exactly a year ago when the market reached a trough.

"Wall Street came in with some early gains and stirred the FTSE from an earlier torpor late afternoon," said Mic Mills, senior trader at ETX Capital.

"But aside from strength in heavyweight commodity issues there really looks to be little underlying the advance and with new multi-month peaks being struck, investors might start to find the air getting a bit rarified at these levels," Mills added.

Miners saw the biggest demand as copper prices rose after data showed Chinese exports and imports grew faster than expected in February raised hopes for a global economic recovery.

Fresnillo (Fresnillo (WI) ORD USD0.50 (WI), Xstrata (Xstrata PLC ORD USD0.50), Lonmin (Lonmin PLC), Vedanta Resources (Vedanta Resources PLC Ord USD0), and Rio Tinto (RIO Tinto PLC ORD 10P) were among the best performers, ahead 1.8 to 3.2 percent.

Energy issues were higher supported by a rally in crude prices, which rose above $82 a barrel after a U.S. government oil inventory report showed an unexpected drop in gasoline stockpiles.

Royal Dutch Shell (Royal Dutch Shell PLC 'A' Ord), BG Group , BP (E:BP) and Cairn Energy (Cairn Energy PLC ORD 231/169P) gained 0.8 to 1.5 percent.

But oil explorer Tullow Oil (Tullow OIL PLC ORD 10P) missed out, losing 0.3 percent after it posted a 92 percent fall in 2009 net profit.

Banks were higher, with global heavyweight HSBC (Hsbc Hldgs.Uk ORD $0.50 (UK RE) up 0.7 percent, while part-nationalised lenders Royal Bank of Scotland (Royal Bank of Scotland Group P) and Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds Banking Group PLC ORD 1) gained 3.9 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Standard Chartered (Standard Chartered PLC ORD USD) added 0.5 percent in spite of the stock trading ex-dividend on Wednesday.

Barclays (Barclays PLC) gained 0.6 percent. The bank was said to be looking to buy a retail bank in the United States to extend its presence after acquiring Lehman Brothers' North American operations in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Among individual risers, inter-dealer broker ICAP (Icap PLC Ord 10p) jumped 4.5 percent higher excited by news its mid cap peer Tullett Prebon (Tullett Prebon ORD 325P) was in preliminary offer talks.

Tullett shares surged 25.7 percent higher, topping the FTSE 250 index leader board with Australia's Macquarie and Bank of China mentioned as possible predators.

British Airways (British Airways PLC ORD 25P) gained 3.7 percent after it, American Airlines (AMR) and Spain's Iberia offered to cede a number of lucrative trans-Atlantic slots in a bid to gain EU antitrust immunity for their alliance.

U.S. blue chips were marginally higher by London's close, up 0.1 percent as a number of merger and acquisition deals offset an unexpected drop in January wholesale inventories.


British American Tobacco (British American Tobacco PLC O) was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 3.1 percent as it traded ex-dividend. Admiral , Schroders (Schroders PLC VTG SHS £1), Serco Group (Serco Group PLC), Shire (Shire ORD 5P), and TUI Travel all lost their dividend attractions too.

Defensively-perceived stocks were the main drag on the FTSE 100 index. Drugmakers AstraZeneca (Astrazeneca PLC ORD SHS $0.25) and GlaxoSmithKline (GlaxoSmithKline PLC) both shed 0.1 percent.

Food retailers were weak, with Wm Morrison Supermarket (Morrison (WM) Supermarkets PLC) off 0.2 percent ahead of results due on Thursday. Peers Tesco (Tesco PLC) and Sainsbury (SAINSBURY(J) ORD 28 4/7P) both lost 0.3 percent.

General retailers were weak as well, with Marks & Spencer (Marks & Spencer Group PLC) down 0.6 percent and Kingfisher (Kingfisher PLC) off 0.8 percent.

Sterling skidded to one-week lows against the dollar and euro on Wednesday after data showing an unexpected fall in British manufacturing hit a market already reeling from political and economic worries.

(Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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Hsbc Hldgs.Uk ORD $0.50 .. 578,50 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Kingfisher PLC 358,07 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Lloyds Banking Group PLC.. 79,08 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Marks & Spencer Group PL.. 530,00 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Morrison (WM) Supermarke.. 198,50 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
RIO Tinto PLC ORD 10P 2.806,50 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
SAINSBURY(J) ORD 28 4/7P 260,44 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Schroders PLC VTG SHS £1 3.207,19 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Serco Group PLC 168,10 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Standard Chartered PLC O.. 1.103,00 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Tesco PLC 238,25 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Tullow OIL PLC ORD 10P 301,54 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Lonmin PLC 122,30 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Astrazeneca PLC ORD SHS .. 4.686,00 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
GlaxoSmithKline PLC 1.571,06 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Icap PLC Ord 10p 527,86 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Royal Bank of Scotland G.. 343,10 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Vedanta Resources PLC Or.. 528,50 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Royal Dutch Shell PLC 'A.. 2.049,48 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Tullett Prebon ORD 325P 376,80 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Fresnillo (WI) ORD USD0... 700,00 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret
Shire ORD 5P 5.404,48 0,0% Aktiekurs uændret

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