UK's FTSE lifted by gains at Next and GKN

Tue Jul 29, 2014 6:52am EDT

* FTSE 100 up 0.2 pct

* GKN surges nearly 7 pct after posting higher profits

* Next rises after increasing earnings guidance

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Britain's top equity index pushed forward on Tuesday, lifted by gains at fashion chain Next , and at car and plane parts maker GKN after strong results and outlook comments.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose by 0.2 percent, or 14.01 points, to 6,802.08 points by the middle of the trading day.

GKN surged 6.7 percent after posting higher profits and raising its dividend, while Next rose after the company increased its earnings guidance after a strong second quarter.

"In both cases, good numbers," said Patrick Butler, chief executive at London-based Prime Wealth Group, which had recommended GKN as its tip for August.

"Next has come out with another stunning set of numbers and sales are higher than anticipated," he added.

The FTSE 100 reached a peak of 6,894.88 points in mid-May, which marked its highest level since December 1999, and came close to that level again in early July.

However, the UK stock market has since given up some of that ground due to tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Kiev's forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, where nearly 300 people were killed on July 17 when a Malaysian passenger plane was shot down over rebel-held territory.

U.S. and European leaders agreed on Monday to impose wider sanctions on Russia's financial, defence and energy sectors in the wake of the plane disaster.

Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry said the uncertain geopolitical outlook was holding back equity markets, even though there were signs that company profits were improving.

"Investors are still fairly cautious about Ukraine and Russia. There's no real drive to push equities higher," he said. (Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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