* FTSE 100 ends 1.2 percent higher
* Non-farm payrolls point to growth but support QE case
* Insurers lead gains following Credit Suisse note
* Aberdeen Asset Management end 10 percent down for the week
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s top shares rose on Friday, following a reversal in financials after U.S. jobs data pointed to growth in the U.S. economy without threatening the Fed’s monetary stimulus.
The FTSE 100 closed 75.88 points higher, or 1.2 percent, at 6,411.99 having fallen by as much as 0.4 percent before the release of non-farm payrolls.
The index had been set for its worst week since May 2012 before the release, which indicated a pick-up in hiring but a slight increase in the unemployment rate.
The FTSE 100 had dropped around 8 percent over the past two weeks after U.S. Federal Reserve officials, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, began discussing exit strategies to their unprecedented open-ended quantitative easing programme.
“It’s the best the market could have hoped for, with a hiring number to suggest there’s some progress being made in the U.S. economy to validate the levels that risk assets had got to, but no drop in the unemployment rate which would pressure the Fed to wind down its programme,” a London-based trader said.
Financials added 22 points to the index, with banks turning a 1.2 percent slump into a 1.5 percent gain.
The top financial gainers were insurers, however, after Credit Suisse highlighted the sector as making steady improvement, favouring Prudential and Aviva in the UK.
“With continued scope for the sector’s cost of equity to fall and still relatively high dividend yields, we see the sector as attractive in a broader market context despite recent strong performance,” analysts at Credit Suisse said in a note.
Prudential was the top blue-chip gainer, ahead 5.5 percent, while Aviva added 2.8 percent.
On a thin day for corporate reports, analyst recommendations and target price changes drove the biggest stock moves on Friday, with second top gainer BT Group advancing 3.7 percent after a Barclays upgrade to “overweight”.
However, Aberdeen Asset Management closed out a torrid week as the top faller on the session. The fund manager fell 1.7 percent, taking its weekly loss to 10.8 percent, after being downgraded by BofA Merrill Lynch to “underperform” following a target price cut by UBS earlier in the week. (Editing by Ruth Pitchford)