BP boosts FTSE as miners, telecoms and banks surge

BRITAIN&rsquo;S top share index ended close to a seven-month high yesterday, as better-than-expected earnings from the likes of <strong>BT</strong> boosted sentiment, lifting miners, banks and telecoms firms.<br /><br />The FTSE 100 closed up 1.9 per cent, or 84.08 points at 4,631.61 points, the highest level since January 6. The index is up 9 per cent so far this month, on track for its best monthly gain since September 1992.<br /><br />BT was the top gainer, up 13 per cent, as the fixed-line telecoms firm posted a smaller-than-expected 3 per cent dip in first-quarter adjusted core earnings and said it was on track to deliver cost cuts. The UK index has gained over 34 per cent since hitting a six-year low in March and is up 4.5 per cent in 2009.<br /><br />&ldquo;We enjoyed some good days in late July and this may stretch through into August but from September I see us trading sideways,&rdquo; said Howard Wheeldon, strategist at BGC Partners.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had over the last three to four months a pretty good recovery run. I think it is not being matched by true economic form and at some point we are going into a long period of sideways momentum.&rdquo;<br /><br />Miners added the most points to the index, with <strong>Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xstrata</strong> and <strong>Eurasian Natural Resources</strong> adding 5.5 to 8.7 per cent. Chilean copper miner <strong>Antofagasta</strong> gained 7.8 per cent after reporting a 6.6 per cent dip in first-half copper production, slightly better than expected.<br /><br />Platinum miner <strong>Lonmin</strong> was another strong performer, up 8.5 per cent as Citigroup upgraded it to &ldquo;buy&rdquo; from &ldquo;hold&rdquo;.<br /><br />Banks also gained in one of the busiest days for earnings reports, with <strong>Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and <strong>Standard Chartered</strong> up between 0.8 and 4.4 per cent.<br /><br />Energy stocks were also in demand, with <strong>BP</strong> up 0.4 per cent, <strong>Tullow Oil</strong> 1.5 per cent higher and <strong>Cairn Energy</strong> adding 1.9 per cent, helped by a firming crude price.<br /><br /><strong>Royal Dutch Shell</strong> gained 0.8 after a better-than-feared 70 per cent fall in the oil major&rsquo;s second quarter net profit.<br /><br />Shares in building supplies company <strong>Wolsley</strong> added 10.4 per cent, as peer <strong>Travis Perkins</strong> beat forecasts with a 27 per cent fall in first half profits. Also on the upside, British engine-maker <strong>Rolls-Royce</strong> climbed 9.3 per cent, after the company posted a 9 per cent rise in underlying first-half pre-tax profit, towards the top end of expectations.