* FTSE 100 up 2.37 points, best close since January 23
* Miners bolstered by robust Chinese trade data
* Technical analysts upbeat on near-term FTSE outlook
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Feb 12 Britain's top share index reached
a three-week closing high on Wednesday, buoyed by miners, after
top metals consumer China reported robust trade data.
Mining companies are recovering from a sharp decline in
2013, after a sector-wide drive to offset falling metals demand
with cuts in spending. They got a boost on Wednesday from the
fresh evidence that the Chinese economy is stabilising.
The UK mining index, up 1.1 percent, hit a
three-month high on Wednesday after Chinese exports and imports
beat expectations in January.
"Economic data from China is providing a lift to the mining
sector, easing fears with regards to a potential slowdown in
commodity demand," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves
The health of the Chinese economy is a key factor for the
FTSE 100, given the mining sector's heavy weighting. It is the
fifth biggest sector on the UK benchmark, accounting for around
8 percent of the index, Thomson Reuters data shows.
The sector has got off to a solid start this year, up nearly
6 percent, against a 1.1 percent drop on the FTSE 100.
"We expect the miners to continue to perform well in the
immediate short term, as the market focuses on better cashflow
from volume growth, weaker FX, cost reductions and capex cuts,"
Goldman Sachs said in a note.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended up 2.37 points -
flat in percentage terms - at 6,675.03 points, marking its sixth
straight day of gains.
The market showed little reaction to comments from Bank of
England Governor Mark Carney and other British monetary
policymakers at a news conference after the Bank published its
quarterly Inflation Report.
"It's pretty much steady as she goes," CMC Markets senior
market analyst Michael Hewson said. "He's reiterated the low
interest guidance, and as such I think markets have acted fairly
benignly towards that."
The FTSE 100 index has rebounded from its December lows,
which have acted as the springboard for a decent bounce, lifting
the index above its 50-day moving average.
Bill McNamara, a technical analyst at Charles Stanley, said
the short-term outlook remains encouraging, with most indicators
pointing towards further gains. His next upside target for the
index is at 6,750 points.