* FTSE 100 flat, near multi-year closing high of 6,840
* Unilever jumps on forecast-beating results
* SABMiller weakens after trading update
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Jan 21 Britain's top shares steadied on
Tuesday, with Unilever notching strong gains after
unveiling robust results, though brewer SABMiller
suffered after a trading update analysts said was uninspiring.
Investors are scrutinising corporate updates for clues as to
the likely strength of the quarterly reporting season, and
whether it will justify high valuations after a bumper 2013.
Unilever advanced 4.1 percent, shaving its loss over the
last six months to around 7 percent, after it unveiled
better-than-expected 2013 results.
But brewer SABMiller shed 2 percent after its update
which analysts said was in line with expectations, though
currency continued to weigh.
"SABMiller was fairly uninspiring in terms of its update,
and I think if anything those two together (Unilever and
SABMiller) are reflective of what we're seeing in terms of the
Q4 reporting season," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at
"There aren't too many companies shooting out the lights at
the moment, and in a broader context, it still remains to be
seen whether the U.S. and UK economy are strong enough to stand
on their own two feet without all the monetary stimulus that
we've been seeing."
While the European earnings season is in its nascent stage,
in the United States, where 10 percent of S&P 500 firms have
reported, 69 percent have met or beaten on revenue, while 58 pct
have met or beaten on earnings, Thomson Reuters Starmine showed.
The FTSE 100 was up 2.22 points, although flat in
percentage terms, at 6,838.95 points, by 0850 GMT, just shy of a
multi-year closing high of 6,840 points hit last May.
Charles Stanley analyst Bill McNamara said the index was
starting to look overbought "but not to the extent that further
upside is no longer likely".
"The broader technical picture is still indicating that the
UK index has scope for further near-term gains and the next
target is, in fact, last year's trading peak, at 6,875."