March 5, 2010 / 9:19 AM / 8 years ago

Banks, commods lead FTSE up 0.5 pct, US data eyed

* Miners, oil strength as commodities rebound

* Banks extend recent gains; other financial higher

* U.S. non-farm payroll data due at 1330 GMT

* WPP results at low end of forecasts; drugmakers weigh

By David Brett

LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index opened 0.5 percent higher on Friday, as commodity and banking stocks led a broad-based rally ahead of U.S. non-farm payroll data, though WPP (WPP.L) results disappointed.

By 0844 GMT, the FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 28.43 points to 5,555.59, echoing moves in the U.S. and Asia overnight, and having closed 0.1 percent lower on Thursday.

U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due to be released at 1330 GMT, will be the key focus of the day, with a Reuters poll predicting a 50,000 decrease in the number of jobs.

“A better than expected number could be the catalyst that will see the FTSE finally test that key upside level at 5,600,” said James Hughes, market analyst at CMC Markets.

“It has been made clear on a number of occasions that the employment picture must show significant signs of improvement before we can say that the economic recovery has finally happened.”

Miners rallied following a pause for breath in the previous session, underpinned by rebounding metal prices, which slipped on Thursday.

Fresnillo (FRES.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L), Lonmin (LMI.L), BHP Billiton (BLT.L) and Xstrata XTA.L added between 1.5 percent and 2.3 percent.

Swiss-based commodity trader Glencore [GLEN.UL] said it was buying back its prized Prodeco coal operations in Colombia from mining group Xstrata. [ID:nLDE6240AK]

Energy stocks were higher, again boucning back from losses, helped by the rising price of crude CLc1, which added 0.6 percent to around $81 a barrel. Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), BP (BP.L), and BG Group BG.L gained 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

Cairn Energy (CNE.L) added 1.7 percent after Numis raised its recommendation on the oil explorer, while peer Tullow (TLW.L) rose 1 percent as Numis raised its target price.

Banks extended their recent rally. Barclays (BARC.L), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), HSBC (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered added 0.7 to 3.1 percent.

    Schroders (SDR.L) was again the top blue chip performer, up 3.6 percent, extending the previous day’s gains following upbeat results.

    Life Insurers were on the front foot following recent dips after Prudential (PRU.L) announced a rights issue on Monday to fund its takeover of AIG Asia.

    Prudential, Aviva (AV.L), which posted results on Thursday, and Standard Life SL.L rose 0.6 to 1.7 percent. Peer Resolution RSL.L, which faces potential FTSE 100 relegation, fell 0.2 percent. [ID:nLDE623237]


    WPP Group (WPP.L) was one of the top FTSE fallers, down 1.2 percent after the largest advertising group in the world reiterated its view that 2010 like-for-like revenues would be flat after it reported 2009 revenues down 8.1 percent, towards the lower end of forecasts. [ID:nLDE6230U5]

    Selected defensive issues were the main fallers as risk appetite returned.

    Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) dropped 0.7 percent after it announced late on Thursday the recall of poligrip in Japan and as UBS cuts its target price.

    Peers AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Shire (SHP.L) fell 0.1 and 0.3 percent respectively.

    Ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls, investors will look at UK PPI data scheduled for release at 0930 GMT. (Editing by Hans Peters)

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