October 31, 2017 / 10:14 AM / 9 months ago

Oil major BP leads FTSE higher as earnings roll in

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* FTSE 100 up 0.3 pct, set for monthly gain

* BP rises to 3-year high after earnings beat

* WPP brushes off guidance cut

* Ryanair rallies as guidance reassures

* Bookies up despite govt mulls cut to gambling bet

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The FTSE inched up on Tuesday as a series of upbeat earning updates including from oil major BP helped UK’s top share index rebound.

The internationally exposed FTSE rose 0.3 percent at 7,513 points by 0929 GMT after a 0.2 percent fall seen on Monday when strength in the pound ahead of this week’s Bank of England policy meeting weighed. The stock index is on track to end October up 1.8 percent, its best month in five.

BP rose as much as 4.1 percent to its highest level in three years since July 2014 after a strong update in a sector supported by the reecent surge of crude oil prices to above $60.

BP said it will resume share buybacks after reporting a doubling in third-quarter profit in the clearest sign yet that the oil company is confident about a turnaround.

“The turnaround in BP’s fortunes since 2010 has been a very long road and CEO Bob Dudley has managed to navigate a very tricky road,” Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note.

Gains in BP were mirrored by strenght in Royal Dutch Shell , up more than 1 percent, making the energy the biggest lift to the FTSE, adding 20 points to the index.

Analysts at Barclays said fund managers globally remained underweight on the energy sector in spite of the rally in crude prices and cost cutting by big oil firms to operate profitably with oil prices at $50.

“As we head into year-end and early 2018 we expect yet more evidence to emerge of the re-set that the oil industry has gone through and with the energy sector offering close to the highest premium of dividends to the market for nearly 30 years, this should in turn lead to a re-rating,” they said.

Elsewhere, chemicals maker Croda was the second biggest gainer on the FTSE, up more than 3 percent after a trading update.

WPP fell as much as 2.7 percent after the world’s biggest advertising company lowered expectations for full-year organic net sales and profit margin, two months after an earlier downgrade sent shockwaves through the industry.

The stock however recovered ground to turn positive, up 1 percent as the focus returned to better than expected quarterly net sales performance. Liberum said the guidance cut was partly expected and would not impact consensus earnings too much.

“We remain positive on the longer-term fundamentals but sentiment is likely to be subdued until WPP can stop the downgrade cycle,” it said in a note.

London-listed shares in rose 5 after Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers reassured investors by saying it was on course to post record annual profits despite a rostering mess-up that forced it to cancel 20,000 flights.

Just Eat rose 4.3 percent after the takeaway ordering website raised its full-year revenue guidance for the second time in four months after reporting a 47 percent increase in its latest quarter on the back of strong order growth.

Among mid caps, Weir Group slumped 5 percent. The maker of pipes and valves for mining and energy industries lowered its full-year operating profit forecast due to higher costs and investments in its mining business.

The mid cap index inched up 0.1 percent.

Shares in bookmakers Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill rose 2.2 and 1 percent respectively, shrugging off news that the maximum stake on gambling machines in betting shops could be sharply cut in response to concerns that the terminals fuel addiction.

The top stake could be cut from 100 pounds to between 50 pounds and as little as 2 pounds, the government said, starting a 12-week consultation period. Analysts at Barclays said it believed a cut to 2 pounds was not the most likely outcome. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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