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* FTSE 100 up 0.4 pct
* Investors reward BT decision to separate Openreach unit
* Oil stocks lead gains on crude price bounce
* Esure, JRP rise on strong results
* U.S. jobs data in focus
By Helen Reid
LONDON, March 10 British shares gained on
Friday, led by BT as investors cheered the resolution of
a long-running regulatory battle over its broadband unit.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent by 1000
GMT, bouncing back from Thursday's losses, as investors awaited
U.S. non-farm payrolls data due later in the day, which were
expected to be strong.
Rising energy stocks also supported the FTSE, but Britain's
biggest telecoms company BT was the top blue-chip gainer, up 4.2
percent after it announced it would legally separate its
Openreach broadband unit. That ends two years of tension with
regulator Ofcom over transparency in the company.
"We see this as positive for investor sentiment on BT in
terms of removing a notable overhang, an absence of negative
surprises, and avoiding a prolonged period of uncertainty had
Ofcom taken its case to the European Commission," said analysts
at UBS, who have a 'neutral' rating on the stock.
Shares in BT, however, were still 10 percent off their level
prior to the company admitting to bad accounting in its Italian
division in late January.
Oil & gas stocks were the top sectoral gainers. Oil trader
Glencore and producer Royal Dutch Shell were
among top FTSE gainers, as oil prices came off three-month lows
hit on Thursday.
Gold producers Randgold Resources and Fresnillo
were the top FTSE fallers as gold fell below the key
$1,200 level ahead of the U.S. jobs data.
Insurer Esure was up 7.7 percent, the top mid-cap
gainer, and hit a record high after it reported an 18 percent
jump in full-year profit on strong premiums.
Peer JRP was a top gainer, up 6.3 percent after it
reported a sharp jump in full-year operating profit, and
increased its dividend. Its shares hit their highest level since
Specialist lender Aldermore was the top mid-cap
faller, down 6.8 percent after it said it raised 113.7 million
pounds through a share placing.
Britain's largest listed property developer, Segro,
fell 4.1 percent after announcing a rights issue to buy the
remaining stake in the Airport Property Partnership joint
"A £556m 1 for 5 rights issue at 345p, representing a 25
percent discount to the 485p theoretical ex-rights price,
nevertheless overfunds this purchase and seems opportunistic,"
said Liberum analysts.
Strong manufacturing data helped support gains. British
factory output had its strongest growth in nearly seven years in
late 2016 and early 2017, data showed, suggesting the
manufacturing sector got a boost from sterling's fall.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Susan Fenton)