* FTSE 100 gains 0.5 pct, up for fifth straight session
* Next is top gainer after raises 2013 profit forecast
* Alpari targets FTSE's all-time high before year end
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Oct 30 Britain's top shares rose to
five-month highs on Wednesday on positive earnings releases from
firms including retailer Next and lender Barclays
Britain's second-biggest clothing retailer rose 6.2 percent,
the biggest FTSE 100 gainer by some margin, after edging up its
2013 profit guidance as third-quarter sales came in a touch
Barclays advanced 2.9 percent after after underlying pretax
profits beat forecasts.
Around 53 percent of companies on the pan-European STOXX 600
index that have reported so far have beaten or met
market expectations with their results, Thomson Reuters Starmine
The FTSE 100 was up 31.68 points, or 0.5 percent, at
6,806.41 points by 0840 GMT, notching up its fifth successive
day of gains and hitting its highest levels since May as
investors awaited a policy statement from the U.S. Federal
Reserve expected to spell out that its ultra-loose monetary
The fact that the U.S. economy has been experiencing muted
growth has convinced many in the market that the Fed will delay
trimming its stimulus spending, which has underpinned equities
for months, into next year.
"It seems it will be March or even potentially April that QE
(quantitative easing) will start to be tapered... and if you put
that together with stronger-than-expected corporate earnings,
you've got a cocktail for improvement (on equity markets)," said
Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.
While some analysts are mindful of potential for surprises
when the Fed publishes its statement at 1800 GMT after a two-day
meeting, many reckon the recent rally in equities has largely
factored in an unchanged monetary policy.
Craig Erlam, analyst at Alpari, was bullish on prospects for
the FTSE 100 but said it could struggle to pass 6,838, a
previous level of resistance, and then 6,875, the 2013 high.
"Above here we have the all-time high of 6,950.60, a level I
see the FTSE surpassing before the end of the year unless the
Fed tapers before then," he said.
($1 = 0.6228 British pounds)
(Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by John Stonestreet)