* FTSE 100 index gains 0.3 percent
* China's growth data slightly above forecasts
* Sports Direct surges on bullish broker note
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 16 Britain's benchmark stock index
edged up on Wednesday after Chinese growth data came in a touch
above forecasts, while results lifted Tesco shares and a
positive broker note boosted Sports Direct.
The sportswear retailer surged 5.8 percent to the
lead FTSE 100's gainers, with traders citing a bullish
note on the stock from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The bank said Sports Direct had potential to grow its top
line at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent over
the next ten years, driven by online sales and expansion into
Europe, traders cited the note as saying.
The market was broadly helped by data showing China's
economy grew 7.4 percent in the January-March quarter from a
year earlier, slightly better than a forecast of 7.3 percent.
Activity data for March showed retail sales were a shade above
forecasts with an annual rise of 12.2 percent.
"Investors have taken Chinese growth numbers positively, but
they are cautiously optimistic as defensive sectors are in
favour today," Coutts global equity strategist James Butterfill
"Aside from some possible seasonal weakness in May, we like
equities. We are positive on healthcare stocks, which remain
good value with an attractive dividend yield," he said.
Pharmaceutical shares, generally seen as defensive plays,
were the top performers on the blue-chip FTSE 100, with
GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Shire
all rising about 1 percent.
By 1046 GMT, the FTSE index was up 0.3 percent at 6,562.09
points, after falling 0.6 percent on Tuesday, on relief that the
Chinese data was not as disappointing as recent figures which
sparked fears that the world's No. 2 economy was slowing down.
"In terms of where we are focusing our positions and our
positive stance, within the emerging markets context we are
trying to pick names which are more skewed towards China than
the current account deficit economies," Ian Richards, global
head of equities strategy at Exane BNP Paribas, said.
Tesco, which is heavily weighted in the FTSE 100,
rose 1.7 percent after posting in-line results and its chief
executive Philip Clarke saying he would respond to both the
discount groups and the upmarket grocers that have hit Tesco
sales at both ends of the market.
"There are some glimmers of hope, with progress in the
online offering worthy of note, the increasingly important
convenience store offering gaining traction and the overall
turnaround plan edging ahead," Richard Hunter, head of equities
at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said.
"Tesco remains the UK's largest supermarket by some
considerable margin, the actual profit number is significant
and, from an investment perspective, the dividend yield of 5
percent is attractive."
(Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Louise