November 21, 2018 / 5:29 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Britain's FTSE has best day in 2 months on bank, energy rally

* FTSE 100 up 1.5 pct, FTSE 250 up 1.2 percent

* Johnson Matthey rallies, Kingfisher sinks after results

* Babcock battered again, company books restructuring charge

* Euro-zone bourses all rise (Adds details, updates prices)

By Josephine Mason

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - UK shares jumped more than 1 percent on Wednesday for their best day in two months, helped by oil and banking stocks and upbeat results from Johnson Matthey, which soothed investor concerns about slowing earnings growth.

The FTSE 100 ended up 1.5 percent, snapping three days of losses and outperforming its euro zone peers. The FTSE 250 closed up 1.2 percent.

A rally in U.S. equities ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday also lifted spirits, with some analysts considering the markets sufficiently oversold and primed for a bounce.

“How far it goes is another matter, but signs of a possible end to the selling are beginning to pile up,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

The U.S. indices have completed another part of the ‘W’ formation that usually accompanies such a big sell-off - a slump, a shortlived bounce and then another drop - before a more sustainable rally, he said.

Banks rose 2.6 percent, while oil and gas stocks climbed 2.3 percent as crude prices rallied.

Still sentiment was fragile as Prime Minister Theresa May met the EU’s chief executive in Brussels to discuss a blueprint for Britain’s future ties and Brussels took a step closer to discplining Rome over its budget deficit.

Investors digested a slew of earnings, management changes and broker recommendations that drove individual stocks.

Johnson Matthey topped the blue chip leader board, surging 13 percent for its best day in just over a year and hitting its highest since Oct. 10 after delivering an increase in first-half profits, issuing an upbeat outlook and pledging a rise in dividend.

NMC Health jumped 8 percent buoyed by a JPMorgan upgrade.

Sage Group managed to claw back from three-year lows to end the day up 2.2 percent as investors sought bargains, shrugging off the British software provider’s warning about slowing growth and a slightly weaker outlook.

“While the news today is bad, there is an element of kitchen sink with a new CEO coming in, the strategy as laid out seems reasonable enough,” said Investec analysts.

Kingfisher, Europe’s second largest home improvement retailer, fell 3 percent after reporting weak quarterly sales in France and announcing plans to exit Russia, Spain and Portugal, which raised questions over its plan to increase profit.

There was plenty of action on the midcap index. Paragon Banking Group jumped 8 percent after its results and Wizz Air was buoyed by a UBS upgrade.

At the bottom of the pack, Indivior sank another 11 percent as its full-year guidance failed to reassure investors after the company lost a legal battle on Tuesday over its blockbuster film-based opioid addiction treatment.

Babcock hit its lowest in more than seven years before ending the day down 4.7 percent after taking a one-off restructuring charge and warning that income from nuclear decommissioning would fall sharply next year. The shares are down 20 percent in the year to date and set for a fifth straight annual loss.

SSP Group plunged 8.4 percent for its worst day on record as news of the departure of its CEO offset better-than-expected results. (Reporting by Josephine Mason Editing by Gareth Jones and Susan Fenton)

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