February 13, 2015 / 9:04 AM / in 4 years

Stronger commodity stocks boost FTSE to five-month high

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index advanced to a five-month high on Friday, trading less than 2 percent below its record peak, boosted by energy and mining stocks that benefited from a rise in commodity prices.

A man smokes a cigarette outside The London Stock Exchange November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Expectations that Greece could strike a deal with its international creditors and a ceasefire deal for eastern Ukraine also improved sentiment, analysts said.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended 0.7 percent higher at 6,873.52 points after climbing to 6,887.57, the highest since September last year. The index set its record high of 6,950.60 in late 1999.

The UK oil and gas index rose 2.2 percent and the mining index was up 3.7 percent after oil rose above $60 a barrel for the first time this year and as copper prices hit a three-week high before trimming some gains.

Oil stocks BP, Tullow Oil and Royal Dutch Shell rose by between 1.7 percent and 5.2 percent, while miners Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American were 3.3 percent to 5 percent higher.

Among other movers, pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline rose 4.5 percent after investment bank UBS raised its rating on the stock to “buy” from “sell”.

“A stronger commodity complex is feeding through to mining and energy companies. Equities are also getting support from a broad-based European rally as a result of some perceived progress on Greece and after a ceasefire in Ukraine,” said Lorne Baring, managing director of B Capital Wealth Management.

“There is a wall of worry, which is being climbed. The markets have been resilient to a number of different geopolitical and macroeconomic threats. If you reduce those concerns, as we are seeing right now, the market has potential to rise even further.”

The benchmark Athens share index rose 5.6 percent, while Greece’s banking stocks jumped 12.7 percent, extending their recent rebound from a 75 percent slump since last March, as investors eyed a meeting on Monday where Athens will try again for a deal with its creditors.

“Equity markets have made progress on continued optimism of a Greek bailout deal, further supported by agreement on a ceasefire in Ukraine,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

“No signs of market superstitions on this Friday 13th, or ‘risk-off’ into what could be an important geopolitical weekend.”

Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels fought fiercely for control of a strategic railway junction on Friday despite a new peace deal brokered by Germany and France. A ceasefire is due to come into effect from Sunday.

Editing by Kevin Liffey/Ruth Pitchford

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