May 2, 2018 / 9:10 AM / 3 months ago

Britain's FTSE sticks to upwards trend as earnings season gathers pace

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* FTSE 100 up, highest in three months

* Inmarsat jumps on Q1 results

* Basic material stocks rise

* Ocado shines with Swedish partnership deal

By Julien Ponthus

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - British shares traded higher on Wednesday, set for a fifth session of gains in a row as metal prices pushed basic material stocks higher and further first-quarter earnings reports from British firms lifted the London stock market.

At 0847 GMT, the FTSE index was up 0.57 percent to 7,563.38 points, a high since the beginning of February, when sterling was however about 5 percent higher than it is now against the dollar.

“The pound’s sustained slump has finally given the FTSE the gumption to cross 7560, a level not seen in three months. Whether the index can maintain those highs, or if sterling can be dragged out of its current funk, may be down to April’s construction PMI”, Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell wrote ahead of the publication of the data.

The release of the data showed British construction activity rebounded faster than expected, pushing the pound slightly higher but had little effect on the FTSE.

A recent run of weak economic indicators have convinced investors that the Bank of England will not raise interest rates next week, sending the pound lower but boosting dollar-earning companies headquartered in the UK.

London-listed miners adding the most points in early trading as copper prices recovered on strong China factory data.

Fresnillo, Antofagasta and Glencore rose between 2.6 and 3 percent with the latter winning, according to a report, a temporary injunction against Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler over alleged unpaid royalties.

British satellite firm Inmarsat was the best performing stock among the pan-European STOXX 600 after its first-quarter revenue rose 5 percent, building on the momentum achieved last year in its maritime and aviation services.

Ocado also shone, up 4.2 percent after the British online grocer and technology company announced a new partnership deal with Sweden’s ICA Group to develop its online business.

Potential deals with overseas grocers are seen as the key influence on Ocado’s stock market valuation with past deals, such as with France’s Casino, prompting a surge in its share price.

Shares in ConvaTec rose 1.5 percent after the British medical devices maker posted a 13.7 rise in first-quarter revenue, as acquisitions and favourable foreign exchange movements helped offset the persisting impact of supply chain disruptions in its businesses.

Standard Chartered retreated 2.4 percent as a better-than-expected 20 percent rise in pretax profit didn’t change the overall picture for the bank, Jefferies argued.

“We do not see consensus estimates moving up on today’s release”, its analysts said.

Among other disappointments, Paddy Power Betfair was the worst-performing on the pan-European STOXX 600 index, after first-quarter earnings fell. (Reporting by Julien Ponthus Editing by Keith Weir)

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