The London Stock Exchange said in a trading statement on Tuesday it would report very strong first-half results and was very close to completing its merger with Borsa Italiana.

The exchange continues to make excellent progress and has delivered a very strong trading performance for the year to date ... and remains on course to report an excellent outcome for first half and the financial year, Chief Executive Clara Furse said in a statement.

The LSE said there were 216 new issues in the period, raising 26.8 billion pounds ($54.3 billion), and that the average number of bargains on its SETS electronic order book trading system increased strongly, up 75 percent at 551,000 per day, exceeding the target for the year of 480,000.

The LSE said in August it planned to complete its 1.6 billion pounds purchase of Milan's Borsa Italiana in October after winning shareholder approval for the deal.

The deal was backed by the U.S Nasdaq Stock Market Inc (NDAQ.O: Quote, Profile, Research) which sold its remaining stake in the LSE last week after building up a 30 percent stake following a failed bid to take over the London exchange.

Transatlantic exchange group NYSE Euronext tried to buy the Milan bourse last year, but was rejected.

The pace of consolidation in the sector has accelerated following the demutualisation and public listings of exchanges in the last few years.

Shares in LSE, which started the year at about 1,249 pence, closed at 1,778p on Monday, valuing the group at around 3.6 billion pounds.