UK stocks: FTSE firmer ahead of US jobs report

Jun 07 2014, 04:04 IST
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SummaryUK shares enjoyed a slight lift on after fresh stimulus measures from European Central Bank (ECB) underpinned European markets.

UK shares enjoyed a slight lift on Friday after fresh stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) underpinned European markets, though investors remained cautious ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs report.

The FTSE 100 index was up 19.73 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,833.22 by 1046 GMT, broadly in line with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index and benchmark indexes in Paris and Frankfurt.

Traders said that with few specific catalysts on the horizon for UK stocks, other than monetary policy decisions by leading central banks, they were in a wait-and-see mode ahead of U.S. jobs data, with the FTSE still hovering around multi-year highs.

The U.S. report is expected to show jobs growth slowed last month and the unemployment rate ticked up, but not by enough to upset the view that the economy is bouncing back.

In any case, Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that the ECB's move should go some way to assuage any market jitters over a downbeat jobs number.

"There's every possibility of a sell-off should the number disappoint, but ... that could yet be short-lived," he said.

Charles Stanley technical analyst Bill McNamara said that the index would need to breach the recent low of 6,782 to signal the start of a more significant sell-off. That is still about 1 percent below current levels.

Aggreko, the world's biggest temporary power provider, was among the top performers on the FTSE 100, with its shares rising 2 percent. Analysts at Jefferies rated the stock a "buy" in a note to clients on Friday, saying the company had "sizeable" opportunities in South America.

Centrica, meanwhile, saw its shares rise 1.1 percent after a report in the Daily Mail said the utility had attracted bid interest from Middle East investors. Centrica declined to comment on the report.

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