* FTSE 100 up 0.4 pct
* Robust traffic figures propel easyJet to all-time high
* U.S. jobs data in focus, due at 1230 GMT
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, April 4 UK shares inched higher on
Friday, as easyJet rose to fresh record highs on robust traffic
figures, though in the broader market investors were reluctant
to place big bets ahead of key U.S. jobs data later in the day.
EasyJet rose 3.1 percent in brisk trade after it
unveiled a 4.8 percent rise in passenger traffic in March,
compared with a 4 percent decline reported by rival budget
airline Ryanair on Thursday.
"EasyJet's one of my favourite stocks. They've got very good
pricing, they've managed to keep their costs down, and they're
increasing their average revenue per seat," said Joe Rundle,
head of trading at ETX Capital.
"I think they're well positioned for business travel and for
holiday travel, which is why you're seeing their numbers go up."
Rundle saw scope for easyJet's share price - currently at
1,845 pence - to hit 2,000 pence.
Trading volume in easyJet stood at around half its 90-day
daily average, compared with turnover for the FTSE 100 of just a
tenth its average.
The FTSE 100 was up 23.72 points, or 0.4 percent, at
6,672.86 points by 0814 GMT, within touching distance of
The U.S. jobs data will take centre stage on Friday,
although some analysts are likely to remain bullish on the
market even in the event of a downbeat report.
Underpinning sentiment was European Central Bank President
Mario Draghi's affirmation on Thursday of an easy policy stance.
That followed Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's defence of
the U.S. central bank's easy-money policies and China's move to
unveil fresh economic stimulus measures earlier in the week.
Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said
these three factors would cushion the market from any serious
market weakness should the U.S. jobs data disappoint.
"There could be some downside. I don't think it would be too
significant," he said.
"We certainly got some broader support from the ECB
yesterday ... we did see some sort of, relatively small, but
some sort of stimulus package in China ... Obviously Janet
Yellen gave some very supportive comments as well."
Data due at 1230 GMT is expected to show U.S. jobs growth
accelerated in March as the winter's gloom started to lift, with
nonfarm payrolls probably increasing by 200,000, the largest
gain in four months, according to a Reuters poll.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)