May 2, 2018 / 9:28 AM / 7 months ago

FTSE pushes higher as earnings season gathers pace

LONDON (Reuters) - British shares traded higher on Wednesday, posting a fifth session of gains in a row as metal prices boosted miners and first-quarter earnings reports lifted the London stock market.

FILE PHOTO: A broker looks at his computer screen on the dealing floor at ICAP in London, Britain January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The FTSE index ended the session up 0.3 percent at 7,543.20 points, its highest since the end of January, when sterling was, however, about 4 percent higher than it is now against the dollar.

“The pound’s sustained slump has finally given the FTSE the gumption to cross 7,560, a level not seen in three months,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.

“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 (purchasing managers’ index),” Campbell added ahead of the publication of the data.

The release of construction PMI data showed British construction activity rebounding faster than expected, pushing the pound slightly higher but with 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 added the most points to the index as copper prices recovered on strong China factory data.

Fresnillo, Antofagasta and Glencore rose between 2.2 and 3.2 percent, with the latter, according to a report, winning a temporary injunction against Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler over alleged unpaid royalties.

British satellite firm Inmarsat was the best performing stock on 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 operations. Its shares rose more than 8 percent.

Ocado also shone, up 3.5 percent after the British online grocer and technology company announced a new partnership deal with ICA Group to develop the Swedish company’s 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 3.8 percent after the British medical devices maker posted a 13.7 percent rise in first-quarter revenue, as acquisitions and favourable currency moves helped offset supply chain disruptions.

Standard Chartered retreated 1 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-performer on the FTSE 100 after first-quarter earnings fell. The bookmaker’s shares dropped 6.3 percent.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Kit Rees; Editing by Mark Potter

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