UPDATE 1-FTSE extends rally as Hammerson points to UK recovery

Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:51am EST

Related Topics

* FTSE 100 up 1.1 pct

* Hammerson tops FTSE after forecast-beating report

* Results point to continuing UK recovery

* Miners receive China boost to extend strong start to 2014

By Joshua Franklin and Alistair Smout

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Britain's top shares extended a two-week rally on Monday, with stocks that are sensitive to optimism over the economy receiving a boost from signs of growth both domestically and abroad.

A string of positives from Hammerson's results helped its shares rise 3.1 percent to their highest level since 2008, with the shopping centre landlord benefiting from a recovering British economy.

As well as improved earnings and net asset value, the group upped its dividend per share by 8 percent to 10.8 pence.

The stock was the top riser on the FTSE 100, which was up 72.38 points, or 1.1 percent, at 6,736.00 at the close.

Shares in fellow real estate groups, British Land Company and Land Securities Group, also rose, by 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent respectively, putting them amongst the top performers in Britain's leading share index.

"When you look at property, it's always a great barometer for confidence. When you see the likes of (Hammerson) coming out with good numbers it perks up the whole market," said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor.

No sectors were in negative territory and only 10 individual stocks fell.

Volumes were relatively subdued on the FTSE 100, with Wall Street shut for a holiday, with volumes coming in below the 90 day average.

EMERGING MARKETS

Miners rose 1.5 percent after data showed banks in China, the world's biggest metals consumer, disbursed more loans than in any month for four years in January, suggesting growth there may not be cooling as much as some fear.

The news was the latest sign of calm in emerging markets, concerns over which knocked 6 percent off the FTSE at the end of January. The index has rallied 4.5 percent in the two weeks since the index touched its low for the year so far.

"The diminution in the emerging market turmoil is probably the main driver, (and there is) a slight sense of risk-on," said Charles Stanley analyst Jeremy Batstone-Carr, referring to the outperformance of growth-sensitive stocks.

So-called cyclical stocks in the basic materials, financial and energy sectors, which tend to rise with optimism over the economy, combined to add over 32 points to the index.

Strength in the miners helped the FTSE outperform the German DAX and French CAC, which traded roughly flat.

The sector is up 7.8 percent so far in 2014, having fallen 16.4 percent last year.

"I'm interested in the rally we're seeing in materials companies, which are one of the better performing sectors of the year, having been the worst, globally, last year," said Mike Ingram, analyst at BGC Partners.

"The market has brushed off any concerns that there had been over growth ... but there are concerns remaining over structural overcapacity, as well as how sustainable any demand recovery will turn out to be."

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