Vodafone, BP lifts FTSE

2011-05-17 13:57

London - Britain's FTSE 100 was marginally higher on Tuesday, as gains in heavyweight firms Vodafone and BP supported an index otherwise mired in concerns over the outlook for global growth.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator by revenue, added more than 5 points to Britain's top share index after surprising investors with an upbeat outlook and resilient full-year results.

Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers, said he remained a buyer of the telecoms firm: "Vodafone offers secure progressive growth in yield, with the potential for a substantial dividend uplift."

Vodafone's current dividend yield of 5.6% compared with nearly 3% for the FTSE 100, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Meanwhile, BP rose 1.2%, adding around 5 points to the index, after its Arctic deal with Russian state-controlled Rosneft collapsed - a development which some analysts viewed as good news for BP.

"The reality is that they would have probably had to hand over money to the AAR partners (four Russia-connected tycoons who own half of TNK-BP) at a premium ... That has not happened so it is actually a positive," said an analyst who did not wished to be named.

BP also announced it raised up to $610m after selling some of its interests as part of BP's plan to divest up to $30bn of assets by the end of 2011.

Essar Energy was the top riser, up 3.8% after an upbeat update.

Global growth worries, however, continued to restrict the FTSE 100's progress. The index was up 6.8 points, or 0.1%, at 5 930.49 by 1054 GMT, having fallen in the past four trading days.

UK inflation woes

British consumer price inflation rose in April to its highest annual rate since October 2008.

"UK inflation is at multi-year highs, US QE is nearing an end and Europe's debt problems refuse to go away - there's not much incentive for fresh money to be ploughed into this market at these levels with so much uncertainty about," Jimmy Yates, head of equities at CMC markets, said.

Banks, which have large exposure to Europe's debt problems, were mixed with investors becoming increasingly convinced Greece's high costs of borrowing will force it to undertake some form of debt restructuring.

Elsewhere, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and British American Tobacco were among a number of defensive stocks heading south, down 1.6 and 0.9% respectively. JPMorgan on Monday advised investors against chasing defensives.

Invensys dipped 1.1% as Exane BNP Paribas downgraded its rating for the British engineer to "neutral" from "outperform" ahead of full-year results due on Thursday.

Peer IMI shed 3.9% with traders citing disappointment that the stock will not been included in the influential MSCI Europe index, as some investors had hoped.

Meanwhile, chip designer ARM Holdings was 1.9% lower after reports that Leo Apotheker, US tech company Hewlett Packard's chief executive, spoke of a tough July quarter, ahead of quarterly results on Tuesday.

Wall Street stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Tuesday, a slight rebound on Monday's weakness, ahead of US April housing starts data scheduled for release at 1230 GMT, with US April industrial output figures due at 1315 GMT.