Thursday, March 28, 2013

TUI and miners lead FTSE higher

By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) - The blue chip shares rose in early trade on Wednesday, building on the previous session's gains and an overnight rise on Wall Street spurred by encouraging U.S. economic data.

Investors though were still awaiting details on Cyprus's plans to impose capital controls and that kept trading across the market in a relatively tight range.

TUI Travel, the world's biggest tour operator led the blue chip index higher, jumping 3.5 percent after it said it was confident of hitting the top end of profit guidance for 2013 after a strong finish to winter trading and rising summer bookings.

On a sectoral basis, however, it was the miners who were the top risers, gaining 1.4 percent as commodity-related stocks added 8.3 points to the index. ENRC rose 3.3 percent, rebounding after a writedown made it the top FTSE faller on Tuesday, with traders citing renewed takeover speculation.

"There's been more takeover chatter with ENRC, and with the U.S. market picking up overnight, that has a positive impact on the mining sector," Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at stockbroker Interactive Investor, said.

By 0902 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 7.83 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,407.20.

The market would also be watching out for a final reading of UK fourth-quarter GDP, due out at 0930 GMT.

The FTSE index gained 0.3 percent in the previous session, and the Dow Jones hit a fresh record close overnight, after encouraging U.S. durable goods and house price data.

However, the broad index remained stuck in a 120 point range that it has struggled to escape all month, even as it looks set for its 10th month of gains in March.

"The FTSE 100 remains in its 6,360-6,480 range while uncertainty prevails from Cyprus and mixed messages continue to emerge from those deciding the fate of the island nation and more importantly the future way of doing things in the euro zone," Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said.

"Over the longer term, the three-month graph maintains its upward bias, with support at 6,350, however, resistance is still likely around Monday's highs of 6,460."

Continued concerns over the controversial bailout of Cyprus took the wind out of financials, with Royal Bank of Scotland, which is heavily exposed to the euro zone, falling 2.1 percent.

The bank also suffered after Citigroup cut its target price on the stock, which was the biggest faller on the index.

Cyprus is set to complete capital controls on Wednesday to prevent a run on the banks by depositors anxious about their savings.

In the bond market, concerns over Cyprus fuelled an appetite for low-risk assets ahead of an Italian debt auction.

"With ongoing concern over peripheral euro zone debt, there's not any good news stories out there surrounding the banks," McCudden said.

Shares going ex-dividend shaved an extra 3.1 points off the index, as British Land, B Sky B, Prudential, Schroders and Smiths Group all traded without entitlement to their latest dividend payout.

(Editing by Susan Fenton)


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