BSkyB surge helps FTSE finish higher

Reuters

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top share index ended higher on Thursday, helped by a surge in media group BSkyB, although investors were underwhelmed by a temporary fix to the United States' debt issues.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up by 0.1 percent, or 4.57 points, at 6,576.16 points to mark its sixth straight session of gains.

BSkyB was the top blue chip winner, jumping 7 percent to its highest level since early 2001 after posting an increase in revenue.

The market, however, had spent much of the day in negative territory on disappointment over the U.S. debt deal.

U.S. lawmakers' last-minute agreement secured funding only until January 15, which raised the likelihood of another round of political brinkmanship.

Still, many traders continued to forecast a strong end to the year, arguing that signs of economic recovery and reasonable company results would continue to support equities.

Psigma Investment Management chief investment officer Tom Becket expressed disappointment with the U.S. debt deal but nevertheless bet on more gains for the equity market.

"Despite the fears that we hold over U.S. politics we still believe that equity markets are likely to rally into the year end. Global economic momentum is accelerating and we expect corporate results to be broadly supportive, although they won't be spectacular," he said.

The FTSE is up nearly 12 percent since the start of 2013.

The index has failed to regain a 13-year high of 6,875.62 points reached in late May, but JN Financial trader Rick Jones expected the FTSE to finish 2013 in the 6,900-7,000 point range.

Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities, also felt fund managers still had little choice other than to buy equities given the higher returns on offer compared with bonds, whose yields have been driven down by central bank injections of liquidity.

"Fund managers cannot afford to miss the rally," he said.

(Additional reporting by David Brett; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and Susan Fenton)

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