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July 27, 2006    

Good reports boost London markets

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by Elaine Frei

The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.9 percent higher on Thursday, at 5,929.5. It was the fourth day of gains in a row for the blue-chip index, during which time it has gained 3.6 percent, or over 210 points. The FTSE 250 was also up on the day, gaining 0.8 percent to 9,362.

Earnings reports in several sectors helped stocks to advance. Rolls Royce added 5 percent to 442¾p on better than expected half-year results that had Numis Securities raising the target share price on the airplane engine manufacturer from 475p to 525p. Fund manager Amvescap also was higher, by 4.1 percent to 522½p, after releasing its quarterly report. Retailer Kingfisher added 3.5 percent to 244¾p, while Centrica was up 0.1 percent to 292¾p.

But not all advances on the day were related to earnings reports. SAB Miller added 1.5 percent to £10.44 on a strengthening of the South African rand. The brewer makes a substantial amount of its money in South Africa.

Miners were up on higher copper prices and on upgrades from UBS. Kazakhmys was up 6.4 percent to £12.61, while Antofagasta gained 4.8 percent to 416½p and Vedanta Resources added 4.7 percent to £13.21. Xstrata was 5.2 percent higher to £21.41 on the news that it will purchase another 5 percent of Canadian nickel producer Falconbridge, for which it has made a bid.

In the pharmaceutical sector, AstraZeneca was 3.3 percent lower to £13.75 on a disappointing outlook statement that was issued along with its quarterly report.

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