Leading UK shares rose 1 percent on Monday, led by British mobile giant Vodafone Group Plc after it reported upbeat numbers one day before its annual general meeting and as PartyGaming firmed.
Vodafone added a net 4.5 million new customers in its fiscal first quarter and kept its annual forecasts for revenue growth and profit margins, bringing some relief to its battered shares.
It was PartyGaming though which topped the index, up more than 6 percent, after it reported a 49-percent increase in second-quarter revenues on Friday. PartyGaming is to launch a major advertising campaign for its PartyCasino site in the U.S., the Independent newspaper reported on Monday, despite the mounting threat of a clampdown by the U.S. government on online gambling.
I think the market has been rather weak over the course of the past few weeks anyway. You could probably argue it's oversold which we certainly would agree with, said Robert Parkes, UK equity strategist at HSBC. So, looking at the big picture, corporate newsflow is still very strong.
By 1040 GMT, Britain's FTSE 100 index was 56.5 points higher at 5,776.2. The mobile communications sector contributed over 7 points to the FTSE's upside, with shares in Vodafone up 2.7 percent.
Pharmaceuticals also boosted the FTSE, as AstraZeneca Plc shares jumped more than 3 percent to a four-year high after it won U.S. approval for two-in-one asthma drug Symbicort a year earlier than most analysts had expected.
The financial sector added nearly 14 points to the index, with shares in ICAP up 2.9 percent on the day.
OIL PRICES EASE
But some oil and gas stocks struggled to keep up, as oil prices eased on renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve conflict in the Middle East. Crude traded at $73.61 a barrel, off record highs above $78 a barrel.
BG Group Plc was down 1.7 percent as easing oil prices countered the effect of upbeat results. The UK gas explorer reported a 46-percent jump in second-quarter net profit to 401 million pounds excluding non-operating items.
Reckitt Benckiser Plc the world's biggest maker of household goods, reported a 13-percent rise in second-quarter net profit prompting the group to upgrade its targeted profit increase for the year. Shares in the company traded 2.3 percent lower.
A solid performance in Q2, but there will be question marks about underlying profitability in Europe, said brokerage Panmure Gordon in a research note.
Shares in Wolseley Plc were up 1.6 percent after the British plumbing and building supplier agreed to buy Danish rival DT Group from CVC Capital for about 1 billion pounds cash.
Among the mid-caps, Whitbread rose more than 7 percent following a weekend newspaper report that U.S. real estate investment company Starwood Capital is in talks with advisers to launch a bid worth around 3 billion for the leisure group.
On the downside, shares in GCap Media Plc fell 6.4 percent after Britain's biggest commercial radio broadcaster said the advertising market had been weaker than expected and trading looked set to remain tough.