BSkyB takeover doubts cap FTSE gains

Fri Jul 8, 2011 7:22am EDT

* FTSE up 0.2 percent

* BSkyB falls as doubts grow over News Corp takeover

* Wolseley buoyant ahead of U.S. jobs

By David Brett

LONDON, July 8(Reuters) - Satellite broadcaster BSkyB weighed on Britain's top share index on Friday, as doubts grew over its takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp .

The FTSE 100 was up 9.35 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,063.90 by 1114 GMT, having gained 0.9 percent in the previous session after U.S. private employment showed sharp gains in May, leaving investors more optimistic ahead of Friday's nonfarm payrolls due at 1230 GMT.

BSkyB fell 4.5 percent after the British government said on Friday it would take the closure of the Murdoch tabloid News of the World, at the heart of a phone hacking scandal, into consideration when deciding on the mogul's planned $14 billion bid to buy BSkyB.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners said he expects the deal to be delayed rather than stopped, unless more drastic revelations surface.

"The UK government has to be very careful. It can delay but can only prevaricate on the basis of what the rules of the game are. I don't think its got much ammunition left to stop this thing going through"

Small cap Trinity Mirror , which owns the Sunday Mirror and the People newspapers, rose 7.6 percent as analysts predicted the demise of the News of the World will benefit rival publications.

Wolseley was the top FTSE riser, up 1.7 percent, as traders bought up the housebuilder as a proxy to the fortunes of the U.S. housing market given its exposure to world's biggest economy.

Many economists raised their nonfarm payroll forecasts on Thursday after the stronger-than-expected reading on U.S. private hiring from payrolls processor ADP, and they now expect gains of anywhere between 125,000 and 175,000. [ID;nN1E76615N]

Retailer Marks & Spencer added 1.9 percent following recent weakness and ahead of a trading update next week.

The FTSE 100 index has risen nearly 7 percent since touching three-month lows 12 days ago, driven mainly by hopes that Greece will avoid defaulting on its debts.

However, with the index approaching 2011 highs of around 6,105, the rally has begun to run out of steam.

Analysts at Charles Stanley said: "We would really need to see a close above 6,160 or so to persuade us that a break to the upside is underway, not least because that level has provided such keen resistance."

On the downside, blue-chip miner Vedanta shed 2.1 percent with traders citing worries over the threat of a punitive mining tax in India.

"Hearing that Vedanta off as the Indian government are drawing up a draft law to tax Indian mining companies to provide welfare of people affected by mining companies," a London-based trader said.

Meanwhile, ARM slid 2.6 percent from a four-month high reached on Thursday, after smartphone maker LG Electronics Inc cut its 2011 targets and on concerns that inventories of chips are edging higher.

Concerns over the outlook for the UK economy resurfaced on Friday, the day after the Bank of England kept interest rates at record lows.

British factory gate inflation rose unexpectedly strongly in June to its highest since October 2008, heralding further upward pressure for consumer prices, while poor construction data added to fears of second-quarter stagnation for the whole economy.

(Additional reporting by Tricia Wright and Paul Sandle; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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