Miners and banks lift Britain's FTSE 100 index
* FTSE close to rising above 50-day simple moving average
* Chinese data boosts mining stocks
* Bullish Bernstein note buoys Barclays and other banks
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - Britain's benchmark equity index rose for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, with some technical indicators showing scope for more gains and robust Chinese import data buoying mining stocks.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent, or 40.08 points, to 6,353.29 points by the middle of the London trading session.
Mining stocks such as Evraz and Vedanta dominated the FTSE's leaderboard, after Chinese data showed that imports into the world's top metals consumer had risen nearly three times faster than expected in March on an annual basis.
"The Chinese data is definitely helping sentiment," said Gekko Markets sales trader Anita Paluch.
Banks also performed strongly. Barclays rose 3.8 percent to add the most points to the FTSE 100, which traders attributed to a bullish note on the sector from investment bank Sanford C. Bernstein.
"We expect Barclays, RBS and HSBC to benefit from improved investment banking and capital markets activity, with Barclays our top pick going into earnings given its larger U.S. exposure," its analysts wrote in the note.
POSITIVE TECHNICAL SIGNS
The FTSE's gains meant the index was close to rising back above its 50-day simple moving average level of around 6,368 points, and breaking above that would be seen as a bullish sign by traders who use such technical analysis.
Since the start of April, the FTSE 100 - which has risen nearly 10 percent since the start of 2013 - has traded in a relatively tight 288 point range from lows of around 6,214 to peaks of 6,501.78 points.
Hartmann Capital trader Basil Petrides said he did not expect the FTSE 100 to progress much further from those peaks in the near term, with many investors still looking to sell shares to book profits on the rally so far this year.
"I see the FTSE forming a short-to-medium-term top, with a slightly downwards bias," he said.
He added he would look to buy up mining stocks such as Rio Tinto for relatively cheap prices on days when they fell, and would only hold them for around 2 weeks before then looking to sell those mining shares back for a profit.
"I would look to buy the miners on the dips but only for a short-term period," he said. (additional reporting by Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)