* FTSE 100 closes up 0.4 pct at 6,865.86 points
* Vodafone at 13-year high after Verizon Wireless deal
* Gains at Vodafone, Bunzl offset impact of HSBC fall
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Feb 24 Gains at mobile telecoms group
Vodafone and business supplies distributor Bunzl
enabled Britain's top equity index to rise on Monday
for the seventh straight session.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up by 0.4
percent, or 27.80 points, at 6,865.86 points - just 1.2 percent
below its December 1999 record level of 6,950.60.
Vodafone and Bunzl together added the most points to the
FTSE, and Mark Ward, head of execution trading at Sanlam
Securities, expected the FTSE to hit a record level of 7,000 in
the coming months.
"Bunzl and Vodafone are looking good. We've got a 7,000
target for the FTSE in the next few months."
Vodafone and Bunzl offset the impact of a 2.8 percent fall
at heavyweight bank HSBC. HSBC posted
lower-than-expected profits and warned about volatility in
emerging markets, which have been hit by the unrest in Ukraine
and currency slumps in Argentina and elsewhere.
Vodafone rose 4.1 percent to a 13-year high on
speculation that it might become a bid target following its deal
to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless to U.S. peer Verizon
Analysts said Vodafone's stake sale is set to prompt the
largest capital return in corporate history, which should bring
in fresh cash for major pension funds which own Vodafone shares
and could use that cash to re-invest in the FTSE.
Bunzl also advanced 6.9 percent to top the FTSE's
leaderboard in terms of the biggest percentage gainer, after
posting profits that beat forecasts.
The FTSE 100 rose 14.4 percent in 2013 to record its best
annual gain since 2009. The index is up by around 2 percent
since the start of 2014, recovering from a fall in January
caused by the downturn in emerging market economies.
Logic Investments' trading director Darren Easton said he
would not buy the FTSE at current levels, preferring to wait and
see if the index could break above its January peak of around
Beaufort Securities' chief investment strategist Mike
Franklin was confident the FTSE would soon hit the 6,900 point
level and later challenge making a record high of 7,000.
However, JNF Capital trader Rick Jones said the FTSE could
consolidate around current levels in the near term, pointing to
the fact that it was in technically "overbought" territory.
The FTSE 100 now has a relative strength indicator (RSI)
reading on a nine-day basis of around 80. If a market has an RSI
above 70, it indicates it is technically "overbought" while
under 30 shows it is technically "oversold".
"The market looks a bit overbought right now," said Jones.