* Blue-chip FTSE 100 index rises 0.2 percent
* Coca Cola HBC surges on Ukraine ceasefire news
* Rio Tinto up on buyback plan and higher dividend
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index rose on Thursday, with bottler Coca Cola HBC leading the market higher after news of a general ceasefire from Sunday in Ukraine’s east, where Kiev is fighting pro-Russian separatists.
The world’s second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, which counts Russia as its biggest market, surged more than 7 percent after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the ceasefire agreement following marathon peace talks in Minsk with his Russian, French and German counterparts.
“Traders were not holding out much hope for the talks in Minsk, but the market was pleasantly surprised by the announcement. At least one set of talks that are taking place in Europe has ended well, and dealers are still seeking an outcome for the Greek debt discussion,” IG market analyst David Madden said.
“The markets are more concerned about Greece’s fate as the indebted nation is just over two weeks away from its bailout deadline, and no solution is in sight yet.”
After seven hours of crisis talks in Brussels, Greece’s new leftist government and its international creditors failed to agree on a way forward on an unpopular bailout and will try again on Monday.
The FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent at 6,828.02 points by 1158 GMT after falling in the previous four sessions.
Basic resources stocks were in demand, with the UK mining index rising 2.1 percent, helped by a 3.5 percent rise in Rio Tinto after the global miner announced plans to return $2 billion to shareholders and offered a higher than expected dividend.
“Rio numbers are well received as expectations of a buyback were fulfilled and a higher dividend will keep shareholders happy. With not much out there on the acquisition front, the best thing it could do was to reward its shareholders,” said Securequity sales trader Jawaid Afsar.
The market showed little reaction to a Bank of England report saying it expected stronger growth on the back of lower oil prices, but that it saw little need to raise interest rates this year and could even cut them if inflation proved weaker than expected.
“Throughout the aftermath of the financial crisis, predictions of interest rate rises have been repeatedly kicked into the long grass. Financial markets now expect a first interest rate hike in early 2016, but I believe late 2016 or even 2017 is the more likely outcome,” said Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown.
Among other movers, BT Group fell 0.7 percent after the company kicked off its 1 billion pound ($1.5 billion) placement, saying it would launch an underwritten accelerated bookbuilding process immediately to fund its 12.5 billion pound acquisition of mobile operator EE. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Kevin Liffey)