Britain's FTSE picks up after four-week rout

Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:55am EDT

* FTSE 100 up 0.4 percent

* Rise follows four weeks of losses

* U.S. data boosts Weir, Wolseley

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index gained on Monday, with some investors seeing value in the market after a four-week sell-off, and with stronger U.S. housing data boosting sentiment on construction and engineering stocks.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 22.23 points, or 0.4 percent , at 6,330.49 points.

The slight rebound came after four straight weeks of losses - the British benchmark's longest down run 14 months - driven by concern that the U.S. Federal Reserve could become the first major central bank to scale back the plentiful stimulus that has supported global equities over the past year.

Markets were expected to remain jittery through the Fed's policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, but with the FTSE 100 down over 5 percent in the past month, some were starting to see attractive opportunities among individual stocks.

Resolution added 3.1 percent after JPMorgan raised its price target on the insurer and highlighted its attractive dividend yield, while consumer health and hygiene group Reckitt Benckiser gained 2.0 percent following an upgrade from Citi saying the stock was undervalued.

Investors also took some comfort from U.S. data showing an improvement in home builder sentiment in June and a pick up in a regional survey of the manufacturing sector.

"You've got economies in North America showing increases in GDP estimates, the UK is turning definitely ... so I would tend to be quite bullish," said Tim Steer, fund manager at Artemis.

"UK companies are in good nick, a little bit cheaper over the last month ... and many of them are very international. They have been through a tough time over the last five years, so much of the competition has gone by the way side and balance sheets are very strong."

Steer's top picks included British retailers, travel stocks like Easyjet, as well as companies focused on the U.S. construction sector such as Weir and Wolseley.

Weir and Wolseley added 2.2 and 1.0 percent, respectively, extending gains after the data on the U.S. housing market

Heavyweight Vodafone was another top gainer, up 1.6 percent amid talk of possible merger and acquisition activity in the European telecoms sector.

The broad rebound in British stocks was also supported by technicals, with charts pointing to a brighter outlook for the FTSE 100 after it tested support around five-month lows on Thursday before rebounding to close much higher that day.

"From here I wouldn't be surprised if we reach 6,550 at least - it could take a few days or at most a couple of weeks," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at GFT. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)