By Kit Rees
LONDON, Feb 14 : Upbeat earnings from Coca-Cola HBC and gains among financials boosted Britain’s top share index on Wednesday, though trading was cautious ahead of a closely-watched U.S. inflation report.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.6 percent at 7,213.86 points by 0953 GMT, while mid caps also rose 0.6 percent.
Concerns over a pick-up in inflation and rising bond yields fuelled a sell-off in global equity markets last week, and U.S. inflation figures due later in the day kept investors on edge.
“It’s really fairly evenly balanced where markets go from here. You could see both a bull and bear case,” Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
Khalaf said valuations were high and the recent sell-off could be seen as the start of a trend towards a fuller correction.
“(But) equally the fact that the slide stopped pretty quickly suggests that there was money that was willing to come in to the market at modestly lower levels, and that’s actually supportive,” said Khalaf.
Shares in bottler Coca-Cola HBC were the standout performers, rising nearly 4 percent and on course for their biggest one-day gain in six months after the company reported a rise in full-year sales.
“A robust outlook on pricing, benign input cost environment … and ongoing cost efficiencies should also help to drive further margin expansion,” analysts at Jefferies said in a note, pointing to Coca-Cola HBC’s upbeat market commentary as another positive takeaway from the results.
Sky was another top gainer, up more than 3 percent after the broadcaster won the bulk of Premier League soccer rights at a lower price than it currently pays.
At the sector level, financials contributed the most, adding nearly 20 points to the index.
HSBC, Old Mutual and Barclays rose between 0.4 percent and 2.4 percent, joining in a broader sector rally in Europe thanks to some well-received results from continental peers.
Outside the blue chips, shares in construction group Galliford Try took a tumble after the firm said it planned to raise 150 million pounds from investors in coming weeks.
It said Carillion’s collapse had increased its cash commitments on an Aberdeen joint venture by more than 150 million pounds. Its shares dropped 18 percent, on track for their worst fall since the aftermath of the Brexit vote in June 2016.