iNVEZZ.com, Friday, August 15: Britain’s blue-chip index has advanced today and is set to post its best week in six months, with investors focusing on yesterday’s comments by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin which have helped ease geopolitical concerns.
A rally in BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) has also contributed to the Footsie’s gains after the heavyweight miner released an update on its portfolio simplification plans.
**FTSE 100 surges**
As of 12:52 BST, the UK benchmark index had added 44.96 points to stand 0.67 percent higher at 6,730.22. The FTSE 100 is on track for a more than two percent gain this week, marking the index’s best result since February. The Footsie has gained ground amid a general rebound in global equity markets and dovish comments by the Bank of England earlier this week.
Comments by Vladimir Putin have also boosted investor sentiment with Russia’s president noting yesterday that Moscow did not need conflict with the outside world.
Reuters, however, quoted Mark Priest, senior trader at ETX Capital, as saying that he would probably ‘short’ the FTSE 100 in the near-term “because the issues in the Ukraine could influence this market and I think they are going to keep it on a knife’s edge”.
The FTSE 100 has held on to its gains after the Office for National Statistics today confirmed that the UK gross domestic product had grown 0.8 percent in the second quarter, the same rate as in the previous three months.
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**Notable blue-chip movers**
BHP Billiton has been the standout Footsie riser today after updating investors on its portfolio simplification plans and saying that it preferred to spin off its unwanted assets. ( ) BHP’s share price currently stands 2.72 percent higher at 2,080.50p.
At the other end of the spectrum has been Smith & Nephew (LON:SN) whose shares have lost ground after Morgan Stanley downgraded the artificial hips and knees maker from ‘overweight’ to ‘equal weight’ following a recent strong run in the stock, prompted by takeover speculation.
IFA Magazine quoted the broker as saying that while US-based Stryker Corp (NYSE:SYK) could revisit a potential takeover of the FTSE 100 company once a six-month cooling off period expires in November, the deal remained uncertain and the stock “could start to lose its M&A premium of around 10 percent” in the near term. Smith & Nephew’s share price has lost 0.86 percent to 1,032.00p so far in today’s session.
**The FTSE 100 was 0.74 percent up at 6,734.55 points as of 13:49 BST on August 15, 2014.**