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Britain's FTSE 100 nudges higher as financials rally
February 3, 2017 / 11:21 AM / 10 months ago

Britain's FTSE 100 nudges higher as financials rally

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* FTSE 100 up 0.4 pct

* Financials among top risers

* Mid cap Beazley posts profit beat

* Miners lag

By Kit Rees

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - UK shares advanced on Friday as financials rose, with earnings in focus among smaller firms as Beazley jumped after a strong set of results.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent at 7,171.20 points by 1051 GMT.

Banking stocks Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were among the top gainers, up 2.5 percent and 1.8 percent respectively with analysts citing renewed positivity around the sector following last year’s broader “reflation trade” which picked up pace after the election of U.S. president Donald Trump.

“Generally investor sentiment around the banks, especially with Donald Trump coming in, is starting to improve,” Jonathan Roy, advisory investment manager at Charles Hanover Investments, said, adding that the fact that the UK banking sector had eased over the course of the week had brought it down to more attractive levels.

A broker upgrade helped ITV rise 1.6 percent, as Investec upped its rating on the stock to “buy” from “hold”.

“While we remain concerned over long-term TV prospects, near-term sentiment is unusually gloomy post a tougher FY16 and Brexit/domestic fears,” Investec analyst Steve Liechti said in a note.

“These negatives look increasingly priced in, in our view, with recent better/less bad trade press comment on TV advertising.”

Among smaller British companies, earnings fuelled mid cap Beazley which jumped 8.6 percent to hit a record high after the Lloyd’s of London insurer’s profit beat expectations.

“Beazley has set the bar high for its peers amongst the quoted Lloyd’s insurers with a terrific set of results for 2016,” Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital Markets, said in a note.

Fellow blue chip insurers Prudential and Admiral Group also rose.

The FTSE 100 index, however, was on track to post its third week of losses in a row.

Mining companies were the biggest fallers, however, with the index down 2.6 percent and set to post its biggest weekly loss since mid-December.

Shares in Glencore, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta , BHP Billiton and Anglo American all fell between 2.7 percent to 3.4 percent as metals prices retreated, with copper on the backfoot after China raising interest rates spooked metals markets. (Reporting by Kit Rees)

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