* FTSE up 0.1 percent
* Three-week rally put market near all-time highs
* Old Mutual the latest upbeat earnings report
* Pearson issues profit warning
By Joshua Franklin
LONDON, Feb 28 Britain's top share index made
slight gains on Friday and looked likely to post its best month
in seven, after a three-week rally that raised it within
touching distance of its all-time high.
After hitting a 2014 low in early February, shares rallied
strongly. The 4.7 percent gain posted so far this month would
make it the best February in 15 years, leaving the FTSE 100
around 2 percent below its peak, reached in 1999.
"It's been a global rebound from deeply oversold levels,"
said Gerard Lane, equity strategist at Shore Capital, who
cautioned the rally could soon run out of momentum. "I think the
market will go up but I think it's getting to a valuation which
Also supporting the recent upturn has been a decent earnings
season. Some 69 percent of companies that have reported
quarterly earnings so far have beaten or met expectations.
On the day, the FTSE 100 was up 6.55 points, or 0.1
percent, at 6,816.82 at 1555 GMT. The blue-chip index was led
higher along with other European equities by U.S stocks, with
some positive economic data boosting the S&P 500 to a record for
a second straight day.
Financial services group Old Mutual was the FTSE's
top riser, up 6.1 percent, after it posted 15 percent growth in
earnings on a constant-currency basis.
British bookmaker William Hill also helped the
market higher, rising 5.7 percent after it said it would cut
costs by up to 20 million pounds ($33.34 million) in 2015.
Holding back the gains, Pearson fell 6.8 percent
after warning it expected earnings to drop in 2014. The
publisher reported results within the range of already lowered
forecasts caused by a deteriorating U.S. education market. It
was the day's most heavily traded stock, with volumes more than
three times its 90-day average.
"They're pretty awful figures. They're trying to rebuild
around this U.S. education division, which has caused a real
weakness here," ETX Capital head of trading Joe Rundle said.
"I wouldn't want to be long. They're betting on a losing
horse. They don't have the scale to compete in this industry."