July 16, 2009 / 5:19 AM / 11 years ago

FTSE hits 4-week high

LONDON (Reuters) - Upbeat results from JP Morgan boosted banks while energy and pharmaceutical stocks also gained, leading Britain’s top share index to close at a one-month high, up for a fourth session Thursday.

Upbeat results from JP Morgan boosted banks while energy and pharmaceutical stocks also gained, leading the FTSE 100 index to close at a one-month high, up for a fourth session on Thursday. REUTERS/Graphics

The index was trading in slightly negative territory in early trade but the JP Morgan results which were announced around midsession lifted the FTSE 100 which closed 0.35 percent, or 15.38 points up at 4,361.84.

The index shrugged off weak U.S. factory activity data which hit stocks on Wall Street; the FTSE 100 is up 5.7 percent on the week and is set for its best weekly performance in four months.

Investors will look to second-quarter results from IBM and Google after U.S. markets close for more clues on the corporate outlook and whether shares can continue their upward trajectory.

“It all depends on how good the results from IBM and Google are,” said Nick Serff, analyst from City Index. “The results this week have been good and more positive results should see consolidation of the gains.”

Citigroup General Electric and Bank of America report Friday.

Banks were the biggest driver of gains, continuing the bull run from the last couple of sessions following the results from JP Morgan.

HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group added between 0.6 and 1.7 percent.

Among other financials, Schroders climbed 3.3 percent, after Citigroup raised the fund firm to “buy” from “sell.”

ENERGY UP

Energy stocks were also among stocks in positive ground, with crude oil stable above $61 per barrel.

Heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell and BP added 0.5 and 0.9 percent respectively.

Oil services company Petrofac was the top riser, gaining 5.3 percent after it said its Petrofac Emirates unit, in partnership with GS E&C, was awarded a $2.1 billion (1.27 billion pounds) Abu Dhabi integrated gas development contract.

But mining firms took the most points off the index as doubts still hovered over the demand outlook for metals. Anglo American, Kazakhmys and Rio Tinto lost between 0.6 and 2.3 percent.

UK software firm Autonomy was the biggest faller on the index, down 8.6 percent, as analysts said although the firm reported second-quarter revenue which was in line with expectations, it missed a number of top-end estimates, and the market expected more from its outlook.

Risk appetite, while slightly improved, was still fragile, leading investors to move into defensive pharmaceutical and tobacco stocks.

AstraZeneca and Shire added 1.5 and 0.5 percent, respectively, while British American Tobacco gained 1.5 percent and Imperial Tobacco was up 1 percent.

Reporting by Simon Falush

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