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* FTSE 100 ends up 0.4 pct
* Investors reward BT decision to separate Openreach unit
* Oil stocks support but come off highs as crude reverses
* Esure rise on strong results
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 ended up 0.4 percent,
bouncing back from Thursday's losses.
Britain's biggest telecoms company BT was the top blue-chip
gainer, up 3.7 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 nearly 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 both
rose more than 1 percent, but came off highs as oil prices
reversed earlier gains in a volatile session.
A strong jobs report in the U.S., which further cemented
expectations of a Federal Reserve rate hike next week, helped
lift the FTSE up as much as 0.7 percent but the index came off
highs as crude prices pulled back.
Insurer Esure was up 7.9 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 ended flat as a rally that followed solid
results and brought the stock to hit its highest level since
January 2016 fizzled out.
Specialist lender Aldermore fell 7.4 percent after
it said it raised 113.7 million pounds through a share placing.
Britain's largest listed property developer, Segro,
fell 5.6 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; Additional reporting by Danilo
Masoni; Editing by Susan Fenton and Pritha Sarkar)