UK stocks consolidate after ECB boost

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By Jon Hopkins

London - Britain's top share index was fractionally higher in early trade on Friday, consolidating the previous session's sharp rally sparked by the ECB's bond-buying programme, as investors looked to US monthly payrolls data to provide a fresh leg-up.

Firm miners supported the blue-chip gains, tracking stronger copper prices on hopes for a demand boost as better US data and the ECB's new plan to buy bonds to ease the euro zone debt crisis, lift the global economy.

Mining bid target Xstrata was a strong performer, up 4.8 percent, while its predator, commodities trader Glencore dropped 1.5 percent in volatile trade after surprising investors by postponing a shareholder meeting that had been due to vote on the $34 billion takeover.

Glencore's bid, which had been teetering on the brink of collapse after Xstrata's second-largest shareholder, Qatar, said it would vote against Glencore's offer of 2.8 new shares for every Xstrata share held, appeared to be back on.

“If Glencore's adjourning the meeting then it looks like they probably will be raising the exchange ratio,” said an analyst who declined to be named.

Trading volumes in Glencore and Xstrata shares were strong at 134 percent and 106 pence of their 90-day daily averages, swelling overall FTSE 100 volume which was over 35 percent of the 90-day daily average in the first hour of trading.

At 0816 GMT, the FTSE 100 index was up 0.87 points, or 0.01 percent at 5,778.21, having jumped 2.1 percent on Thursday, with the blue-chip index easing back after breaching the 5,800 level early on for the first time in two weeks.

“Now that the FTSE appears to be ready to start another leg up, traders should be aware of a possible upside target,” said James A. Hyerczyk, analyst at Autochartist

“Based on the break from 5,876.20 to 5,630.11, traders should look for a rally to 5,755.55 to 5,784.02 over the near-term. Exceeding this retracement zone will indicate more upside to follow,” Hyerczyk said.

Investors showed little reaction to a mixed batch of British data, with July industrial output rising at its fastest pace since 1987, but August wholesale PPI inflation rising more than expected. - Reuters


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