* FTSE 100 index rises 0.6 percent
* Strong U.S. jobs data, dovish ECB boost market
* Antofagasta climbs out of trading range in brisk volume
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, July 3 Britain's top share index rose
for a third-straight session on Thursday, boosted by a fresh
batch of strong U.S. jobs data and supportive rhetoric from the
European Central Bank.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 was up 42.34 points, 0.6
percent, at 6,858.71 points by 1411 GMT, taking its gain since
the start of July to 1.7 percent.
U.S. employment growth jumped in June and the jobless rate
closed in on a six-year low, bringing decisive evidence the
world's largest economy was moving forward at a brisk clip and
building on strong U.S. private-sector data on Wednesday.
"The U.S. continues to be among the leaders of the wider
global recovery, and these non-farm payrolls should be
supportive for equities in general," said Nick Peters, portfolio
manager at Fidelity Solutions, which manages £27.8 billion
($47.30 billion) of assets.
British blue-chip companies derive nearly a quarter of their
revenues from North America, a larger exposure than their
counterparts in the euro zone Euro STOXX 50 index.
The FTSE, howevver, has a larger tilt to less economically
sensitive sectors, such as healthcare, than the Euro STOXX 50.
"If we see growth accelerating in the U.S. then the
continental European markets generally are more economically
sensitive than the UK, so we're likely to see continental Europe
outperform if that's the case," Peters said.
Both indexes extended gains in the afternoon as the ECB's
president Mario Draghi reiterated the bank's rates will stay low
for longer and that the bank stands ready to create money in
future if required.
The FTSE 100 is less than 2 percent away from its peak of
6,950.60, set in late 1999, and investors have been waiting for
catalysts to lift it out of a trading range - such as stronger
economic data and corporate earnings or a pick-up in the pace of
mergers and acquisitions.
"We may set new highs after the summer, but it largely
depends on two things - earnings and corporate activity," Daniel
McCormack, strategist with Macquarie, said. "If M&A (mergers and
acquisitions) continues, then that would be a powerful support
for the market."
Miner Antofagasta surged 4.4 percent as copper
climbed to its highest in more than four months. shares were
testing the upper end of a trading range that has trapped the
stock since late April, in volume already almost equal to its
full-day average for the past three months.
The stock is close to filling a bearish chartist gap opened
on April 23, which would likely trigger automatic buying orders
from technical traders.
Charts also suggested gains for the broader market. Bill
McNamara, technical analyst at Charles Stanley, said that the
FTSE 100's close on Wednesday above its 50-day moving average
raised expectations the move higher might run to to test this
year's highs at around 6,880 points.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Robin