Asset managers pull FTSE into positive territory

Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:22pm EST

* FTSE 100 up 0.2 percent
    * Hargreaves Lansdown gets results boost
    * Energy shares lag
    * ENRC higher on solid production, bid rumours

    By Tricia Wright
    LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Britain's top shares nudged into
positive territory on Wednesday on a strong showing from asset
managers following robust results from Hargreaves Lansdown,
which outweighed declines in energy stocks.
    The FTSE 100 closed up 12.58 points, or 0.2 percent,
at 6,295.34, having risen 0.6 percent the previous session after
suffering its sharpest one-day percentage drop in three months
on Monday.
    While choppy trade in recent days has raised questions over
the FTSE 100's ability to sustain its recent strength - with the
index on Wednesday having swung from 6,265 through 6,321 -
strategists reckon more gains are likely.
    "It's likely to see near-term consolidation because it's a
bit overstretched, but fundamentally we're relatively
constructive," UBS strategist Nick Nelson said.
    Hargreaves Lansdown jumped 11.2 percent, grabbing
the top spot on the blue-chip leaderboard after it unveiled
hefty increases in first-half profit, sales and assets.
    Major banks have been cutting trading staff and, in some
cases, battling fallout from rate-rigging scandals. But while
trading volumes are generally in decline, co-founder Peter
Hargreaves said his firm was finding new clients at an
unprecedented rate, boding well for the sector.
    Blue-chip peers Schroders and Aberdeen Asset
Management rose 2.9 percent and 1.2 percent
respectively, and midcap Henderson climbed 2.4 percent.
    The fourth-quarter earnings season in Europe has got off to
a fairly solid start. A quarter of companies have reported so
far, with 60 percent having beaten or met expectations,
according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.
    Heavyweight energy stocks fell, with traders
citing profit-taking after gains in the previous session when
both BP and BG Group posted results.
    Barclays weighed in on both oil majors on Wednesday. 
    The bank trimmed its target price for BG to 1,420 pence to
reflect a lower level of LNG profitability, though reiterated
its "overweight" recommendation. Its shares shed 0.6 percent.
    The bank was cautious on BP, off 0.6 percent, on which it
has an "underweight" rating, highlighting continued risks
associated with remaining claims over the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill. 
    Among commodity stocks, Kazakh mining group ENRC 
surged 9.1 percent to 372 pence, boosted by the company's strong
quarterly output and media talk that it could be a takeover
target.
    "The Q4 production report, while mixed does show good growth
in production of saleable ferroalloys and ferrochrome, and this
coupled with expectations of a strong 2013 as stated by CEO
Felix Vulis should at the very least underpin the stock at
current levels," Richard Curr, head of dealing at Prime Markets,
said in a note.
    Several British newspapers carried reports of traders
hearing speculation about a takeover bid from major shareholder
Alijan Ibragimov at around 6 pounds a share.
    Trading volume in ENRC was robust, at 257 percent of its
90-day daily average, against the FTSE 100 on 100 percent.
    

 (Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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