* FTSE 100 up 0.4 pct, trades 2 pct below record high
* Aviva, Aggreko, Schroders up 5.7 to 9.1 pct
* BoE likely to keep interest rate unchanged
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 6 Britain's top share index rose
in early trading on Thursday, with positive corporate news from
companies such as Aviva and Aggreko and easing
tension in Ukraine prompting investors to buy riskier assets.
Aggreko, the world's biggest temporary power provider,
climbed 9.1 percent to the top of blue-chip FTSE 100 index
after saying it would return 200 million pounds ($334
million) to shareholders.
British insurer Aviva rose 8 percent on a 6 percent increase
in its operating profit for 2013 and proposing a final dividend
of 9.4 pence per share, while fund manager Schroders gained 5.7
percent following its higher-than-expected pre-tax profit growth
"People are starting to concentrate more on corporate
earnings now after a jolt with the Ukrainian situation. Unless
things suddenly get worse there again, we are looking forward
and concentrating on fundamentals of the market," David
Battersby, investment manager at Redmayne-Bentley, said.
"If you look at the price-to-book ratio or the dividend
yield, there is still value to be had. We are not as cheap as
were, but we are not necessarily expensive yet. And if we can
see a recovery coming through in the underlying companies, then
that provides support to equity prices going forward."
According to Thomson Reuters Datastream, the blue-chip FTSE
100 index trades at 13.2 times its one-year forward earnings,
against a 10-year average of 11.9 times.
At 0847 GMT, the FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent
to 6,800.69 points after falling 0.7 percent on Wednesday. It
traded just about 2 percent below its record high in late 1999.
Cyclical sectors were in demand, with UK banking index
gaining 0.9 percent and the mining index
up 1.4 percent.
The market awaited the outcome of central bank meetings
scheduled later in the session. The Bank of England is likely to
keep its interest rates on hold, but the European Central Bank
is expected to take action to loosen lending conditions and pull
inflation out of a "danger zone".
Investors kept an eye on the situation in Ukraine, but were
betting that the geopolitical situation will further improve.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said discussions about
Ukraine would continue in the coming days, and he expected to
meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again in Rome on