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Data, BT results lead to rebound on Britain's FTSE

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* FTSE 100 gains 0.4 percent

* BT top riser after profits come in above expectations

* Euro zone PMIs support optimism, but ECB figures hit banks

* Index posted best January since 1989

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Britain's blue-chip index rebounded on Friday from sharp falls in the previous session, with good earnings and an optimistic global economic outlook pushing the market back near four and a half year highs.

At 1153 GMT, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent, or 25.60 points, at 6,302.48 points -- pushing it back to near its best level since around mid-2008.

BT led the FTSE 100's top gainers, rising 5.7 percent and adding the most points to the index after reporting better-than-expected profits off the back of strong demand for broadband services.

Sentiment was also broadly supported by several macroeconomic indicators, with euro zone factories best output in nearly a year helping the index's early gains and non-farm payrolls, due at 1330 GMT, expected to point to steady economic growth in the world's biggest economy.

"The market shows all the catalysts for a continual push higher based on stronger macro and economic news coupled with positive earnings," Atif Latif, Director of Trading at Guardian Stockbrokers, said.

Conflicting manufacturing PMI surveys from China both pointed to continued -- albeit mild -- recovery in the sector. The mining sector, which is sensitive to global growth trends, gained 1.1 percent.

However banks, despite being a similarly 'cyclical' sector which tends to gain with economic optimism, were among the few sectoral fallers.

They traded down 0.3 percent, having posted gains in early trade, after losing 0.5 percent in the ten minutes after the ECB said 3.5 billion euros of its three year banking loans would be repaid next week -- a figure well below market expectations.

A Reuters poll earlier this week showed money market traders had been expecting 20 billion euros to be repaid, and the figure was well below the 137 billion paid back this week.

The sector has also had a poor string of earnings results from the likes of Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank , and Colin McLean, managing director at SVM Asset Management, said some traders were switching out of bank stocks, and into miners.

"The banks have had a good run, and investors are looking at the bigger mining stocks," said McLean.

FTSE'S FEBRUARY FILLIP

The FTSE 100 looked set to close higher on the first trading session of the month for the twelth time in the last thirteen months.

"The moves in the market today may be exacerbated by the new month - a sort of calendar effect" Ioan Smith, strategist at Knight Capital, said.

Despite falling in the last couple of sessions of January, the FTSE's start of the year was the best since 1989. However, despite the market's return to positive territory, Smith was still generally cautious on the market.

"Macro data in the euro zone may be improving but it's still contracting. Getting worse at a slower rate isn't necessarily getting better." (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130201/data-bt-results-lead-rebound-britains-ftse