* FTSE 100 index rises 0.7 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 consecutive 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 closed 48.84 points higher,
or 0.7 percent, at 6,865.21 points, taking its gain since the
start of July to 1.8 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, however, has a larger tilt toward 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 stands ready to
create money in future if required.
The FTSE 100 is less than 0.5 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 its recent 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 4.9 percent as copper
climbed to its highest in more than four months. The copper
miner's shares broke out of a trading range that had trapped the
stock since late April, in volume nearly three times its daily
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 that it might run to test this year's highs
at around 6,880 points.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Raissa