FTSE set for strong weekly gains on optimism over global economy

Fri Jul 4, 2014 11:11am EDT

* FTSE 100 index up 0.1 percent

* Volumes low as U.S. market shuts for holiday

* EasyJet boosted by traffic figures

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index traded at three-week highs on Friday and was on course to record strong gains on the week as investors took heart from further signs of improvement in the global economy.

Budget airliner easyJet rose 1.2 percent, a top FTSE 100 performer, after posting a 10 percent jump in its passenger numbers in June from the same month of the previous year.

Robust U.S. economic data, which raised expectations that the world's biggest economy was on a recovery path, meant the broader FTSE 100 index was headed for its best weekly gains since early May.

"The underlying picture still remains good in some of the key regions - the U.S. and here in the UK of course and you've still got an accommodative stance from the European Central Bank," said Henk Potts, equity strategist at Barclays.

"I think the earnings that you see from companies will still be very supportive and good news for sentiment, but appreciate that actually investors may become a little bit nervous as we go through that period of liquidity starting to be removed and as interest rates start to normalize."

Sports Direct bucked the slightly firmer trend, off 2.3 percent, after a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper said leading investors in the company will vote against the re-election of the chairman and other board members at September's annual general meeting in protest at the multimillion-pound bonus scheme for its founder Mike Ashley.

Sports Direct declined to comment to the paper.

The FTSE 100 index was up 6.69 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,871.90 points by 1454 GMT. It was up 1.7 percent this week, the best weekly gain in almost nine weeks.

Investors had avoided strong bets on the last trading day of the week and as the U.S. market was closed for a holiday. Trading volumes were low, with the FTSE 100 witnessing a third of its 90-day daily average towards the end of the session. (Reporting by Tricia Wright and Atul Prakash; editing by Andrew Roche)

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