Supermarket sweep pushes FTSE to seventh rise in a row

BRITAIN&rsquo;S top share index rose for a seventh-straight day yesterday, boosted by supermarkets after a trading update from <strong>Wm Morrison</strong>, and after strong US quarterly results, with miners also lending support.<br /><br />The FTSE 100 closed 37.55 points higher, or 0.9 per cent, at 4,481.17, following a gain of 1.3 per cent on Monday.<br /><br />The index was given a lift by upbeat US quarterly results from bellwether companies including <strong>Caterpillar</strong>, which overshadowed Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke&rsquo;s cautious outlook for the economy.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think as much as anything there&rsquo;s a bit of a momentum effect, which has given our markets a bit of a push,&rdquo; said Richard Hunter, who is head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.<br /><br />&ldquo;Certainly in terms of Next and Morrisons, it seems that the UK consumers are continuing, against some expectations, to be very resilient,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Wm Morrison grabbed the top spot on the blue-chip leaderboard, up 8.2 per cent after Britain&rsquo;s fourth largest supermarket group said it expected full-year results to be ahead of expectations.<br /><br />Peers<strong> Tesco</strong> and<strong> Sainsbury</strong> climbed 1.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.<br /><br />Next also gave out encouraging signals, with the fashion retailer raising its profit guidance after clothing sales were boosted by good summer weather.<br /><br />The firm&rsquo;s shares, however, fell back 1.6 per cent, as investors booked profits after a strong run in the share price.<br /><br />Miners added the most points to the index, with copper hitting nine-month highs earlier in the session as analysts said the metal looked strong fundamentally.<br /><br /><strong>Xstrata</strong>, <strong>Antofagasta</strong>, <strong>Rio Tinto</strong>, <strong>Anglo American</strong> and <strong>BHP Billiton</strong> all added between 2.3 and 4.1 per cent.<br /><br />Energy stocks were also in demand, with <strong>BP</strong>, <strong>Royal Dutch Shell</strong> and <strong>Cairn Energy</strong> up between 0.4 and 1.9 per cent.<br /><br />Defensives were firmer. Ahead of its second-quarter results today, <strong>GlaxoSmithKline</strong> put on 1.7 per cent, while<strong> British American</strong> <strong>Tobacco</strong> added 1.4 per cent.<br /><br />Banks were the biggest drag on the blue chips, with index heavyweight <strong>HSBC</strong> dropping 1.6 per cent amid concern a recent rally was overdone as the outlook remains fragile. <br /><br />HSBC declined to comment on its share move.<br /><br /><strong>Barclays</strong> fell 1.2 per cent, but gains were seen elsewhere in the sector, with part state-owned banks <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong>, <strong>Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and global lender <strong>Standard Chartered</strong> adding 0.1-2 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Friends Provident </strong>was among the heaviest fallers of the day, off 2.5 per cent after it rejected a revised offer from Resolution, saying that the financial buyout firm&rsquo;s structure was &ldquo;totally inappropriate&rdquo; for a public company.