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FTSE gains, Land Securities up after dividend hike

Stock Markets May 19, 2015 12:14
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By Atul Prakash and Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top share index rose on Tuesday, with Land Securities leading the market higher after raising its dividend payout, despite a drop in heavily weighted miners and telecoms firm Vodafone .

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index (FTSE) was up 26.20 points, or 0.4 percent at 6,995.07 points by 1034 GMT. The index has gained nearly 7 percent so far this year.

Shares in Land Securities (L:LAND) rose 2.4 percent, one of the biggest FTSE 100 gains, after Britain's largest listed property developer hiked its dividend by 3.7 percent, saying a boom in demand for commercial property had boosted its net asset value by 27.6 percent in the year ended March 31.

"Land Securities numbers were good and highlight that the office space market will continue to improve with a further pickup in the economy. The company will benefit from a rise in the rental demand," Securequity trader Jawaid Afsar said.

Shares in Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier (L:REL) gained 2.2 percent to 1,125 pence after Goldman Sachs raised its price target for the stock to 1,230 pence from 1,210 pence.

Bottler Coca Cola HBC (L:CCH) was the top riser, gaining 3.8 percent after Barclays (LONDON:BARC) lifted its target price on the stock to 1220 pence from 1175 pence following above expectation earnings reported last week.

"Early signs of gradual underlying improvement in many of CCH's markets... and an abating FX headwind have provided some recent support to the stock," analysts at Barclays said in a note.

"However... with questions on the sustainability of the

pick-up in growth, we believe the risk/reward is still evenly balanced and remain EW (equal weight)."

Gains in the broader stock market were capped by a drop in miners after prices of key industrial metals fell. BHP Billiton (L:BLT), Fresnillo (L:FRES) and Anglo American (L:AAL) fell 1.3 to 3 percent. The UK mining index (FTNMX1770) was down 1.3 percent.

BHP Billiton also came under pressure after J.P. Morgan cut its target price for the stock to 1,425 pence from 1,600 pence.

Among top individual decliners, Vodafone (L:VOD) fell 2.7 percent as some traders said that the mobile network operator's guidance had been slightly below forecasts, even though Vodafone returned to quarterly sales growth.

"Vodafone ... delivered a more cautious outlook than expected as it presses ahead with network investment to increase both speed and coverage and reduce customer churn," Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said.

"It would appear that the prospect of further network investment being required to offset squeezed consumers is weighing on expectations."

FTSE gains, Land Securities up after dividend hike
 

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