* FTSE 100 up 0.6 pct
* Upbeat Morgan Stanley, Goldman results lift UK financials
* RSA buoyed by sale of Baltics, Poland operations
* Diageo falls after posting lower sales
* London stock market closed on Friday and Monday
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, April 17 Britain's top shares ticked up
on Thursday after upbeat U.S. results from the likes of Morgan
Stanley and Goldman Sachs drove up financials and
allayed investor concerns about the current earnings season.
Morgan Stanley shares gained after it unveiled a rise in
first-quarter earnings, while Goldman Sachs advanced after it
reported an 11 percent drop in profits but beat expectations.
Fund manager Schroders and Barclays, up 4.2
percent and 3.9 percent respectively, led gains in UK
financials, which helped push the broader FTSE 100 index
up 39.79 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,623.96 points by 1500 GMT.
"The strong banking numbers are obviously a key driver,
especially for the FTSE which is cyclically led, and I think
there's just a general sense that we might be coming into a
period of slightly stronger numbers now," said Matt Basi, head
of sales trading at CMC Markets.
Barclays' advance came as its Chief Executive Antony Jenkins
embarked on the third review of its investment bank, with
analysts predicting that this might lead to a cut in the
division's size of up to 20 percent.
A fresh media report about the review gave Barclays a fillip
The Sky News report cited a memo sent to staff by Jenkins,
in which he said he wanted to set out a clear path to build a
better Barclays that can deliver sustainable returns and growth.
"If he's (Jenkins) being proactive about cutting jobs, I
think that's a good thing," said Manoj Ladwa, head of trading at
RSA Insurance climbed 1.6 percent after selling
operations in the Baltics and Poland for a total of 348 million
euros ($481 million), the latest step by Chief Executive Stephen
Hester to turn the insurer around.
Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers,
said the deal was good for RSA, valuing the units at above
market estimates of 16 times 2013 pre-tax profit and 1.2 times
A drop in drinks group Diageo limited the FTSE 100's
gains. Its shares fell 3.9 percent after weakness in its Chinese
market led to lower third-quarter sales.
The FTSE 100, which rose 14.4 percent last year, is down by
about 2 percent since the start of 2014.
The index reached a peak of 6,867 points in January, around
its highest levels since early 2000, but has since dropped on
concerns over a slump in emerging markets and fears over fallout
from tensions between Russia and Western powers over Ukraine.
Strand Capital managing director Kyri Kangellaris saw the
FTSE stuck in a range of 6,500-6,850 points, as long as it
failed to break above its January high of 6,867 points and last
year's peak of about 6,876.
"We're looking rangebound for the near term," he said.
($1 = 0.7243 euros)
(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Andrew