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FTSE firms as corporate results lift confidence

* FTSE 100 up 0.4 percent, shrugs off weak retail data

* Miners push higher as global recovery hopes intact

* Food, travel firms lifted by Europe, U.S. results

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Stronger miners and banks lifted Britain's top shares on Thursday, supported by strong U.S. and European earnings, with British Airways BAY.L a big beneficiary of solid results from U.S. peers.

By 0911 GMT the FTSE 100 .FTSE was 0.4 percent higher at 5,751.44 after rising 0.4 percent on Wednesday.

Miners delivered the biggest lift to the index, supported as metal prices held near recent highs and as strong corporate earnings and solid data from China supported confidence the global economic recovery was sustainable. Anglo American AAL.L led the way, up 1.9 percent after releasing third-quarter earnings while Rio Tinto RIO.L added 1.7 perecnt.

“Attention has shifted away from the focus on an interest rate rise in China to strength in corporate earnings in the U.S. where around three-quarters of results have exceeded expectations,” said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Confidence on the sustainability of the global recovery and thus the demand outlook for metals was shored up as China said its economic growth slowed in the third quarter but was a touch stronger than expected. [ID:nTOE69K00X]

China sent equity markets lower markets on Tuesday when it announced the first hike in its core interest rate since 2007.

UK equities shrugged off data which showed a British economy struggling to recover strongly from an 18-month recession.

British retail sales unexpectedly fell for a second month in a row in September, driven lower by weak clothing and fuel sales, official data showed.

Lending to UK firms rose in August for the first time since February but remained 5.4 percent lower than the same month a year ago, Bank of England figures showed.

British Airways BAY.L was the top gainer, up 3.9 percent, buoyed by strength from its U.S. peers. Delta Air Lines DAL.N, US Airways Group Inc LCC.N and American Airlines parent AMR Corp AMR.N all posted strong results.

TRAVEL GAINS

Elsewhere in the travel sector, TUI Travel TT.L was the sharpest faller, down 7.1 percent after it restated its 2009 results and said its finance chief will go after stumbling across 117 million pounds ($185 million) owed by customers that will now have to be written off.

But overall there was confidence on the sector, with InterContinental Hotels IHG.L up 3.2 percent after French peer Accor ACCP.PA raised its 2010 profit goal on Wednesday and posted third-quarter sales slightly above forecasts.

Food producer Unilever ULVR.L and household products firm Reckitt Benckiser RB.L and Associated British Foods ABF.L were also beneficiaries of strength from European results after French food group Danone posted a forecast-beating 15 percent rise in third-quarter sales.

Banks also gained with HSBC HSBA.L and Lloyds Banking Group up 1.6 and 0.3 percent respectively.

Tullow Oil TLW.L was off 3.2 percent after it said an offshore well in Ghana failed to find oil, prompting Oriel to downgrade the British-based explorer to "reduce" from "hold". (Editing by Michael Shields)

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