Miners help FTSE higher on China, Alcoa
* FTSE 100 climbs 0.3 percent,
* Miners up after benign China inflation data, Alcoa
* Defensives retreat, led down by Diageo
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index rose on Tuesday, led by miners as benign Chinese inflation data stoked expectations the world's biggest metals consumer's monetary stimulus will stay in place.
Helped also by the U.S. corporate earnings season getting off to a solid start, the FTSE 100 was up 17.28 points or 0.3 percent at 6,294.22 by 1054 GMT, building on a 0.4 percent advance in the previous session.
U.S. aluminium group Alcoa kicked off U.S. earnings, unveiling higher-than-expected profits after Wall Street's closing bell on Monday, easing concerns about corporate results.
Other big U.S. companies are set to report results during the week - including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup - a particular focus for investors in British blue chips given the latter earn around a quarter of their revenues in North America.
Forecasts for first-quarter earnings have been trimmed since the beginning of the year, with profits seen rising just 1.6 percent from the year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. In January, earnings were seen rising 4.3 percent.
"On the basis that expectations ... have been battened down, there is an opportunity especially for those quality blue chips to outperform expectations and that could actually provide something of a fillip for the market," Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
Aside from lifting broad sentiment, Alcoa's earnings helped lift miners 2.4 percent - up for a second day and recovering off seven-month lows set at the end of last week - with the firm viewed as a bellwether for the materials sector.
The sector has slid more than 10 percent in 2013 on concerns over falling demand and rising prices.
"The FTSE 350 mining sector index has really been hit hard this year ... If nothing else, this definitely suggests there's some value to be had in these stocks, so the rally is likely to continue," Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor, said.
In general, cyclical sectors that rise with optimism over the economy outperformed those seen as defensive plays against economic uncertainty, with banks ahead 1 percent.
This counters the unusual theme which has characterised market trends so far this year, with defensive stocks outperforming cyclical counterparts in rising markets.
The beverage sector has risen some 14 percent, outperforming the FTSE's rise of nearly 7 percent. However, Tuesday saw a rotation out of highly-rated defensive stocks, with Diageo leading the fallers with a 2.4 percent drop.
"Woeful though they were, I think on reflection the markets realise that the non-farm figures on Friday were just one economic indicator," said Hargreaves Lansdown's Hunter, referring to weak U.S. employment data.
"Even though the U.S. economy is perhaps not growing at the speed that many would like, it is nonetheless maintaining its recovery." (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson and Alistair Smout; Editing by David Holmes)
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