(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* AstraZeneca tops FTSE 100 on earnings beat
* Smurfit Kappa rises on Q1 result
* Barclays slumps , cautious outlook weighs
* FTSE 100 up 0.1%, rises 3.8% in April
(Releads, adds closing prices, comments)
By Devik Jain and Julien Ponthus
April 30 (Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 index outshone its European rivals on Friday, boosted by earnings updates from AstraZeneca and Smurfit Kappa which help offset a slump in Barclays shares due to a cautious outlook despite profits beating expectations.
London's blue chip index .FTSE ended the session up 0.1% to secure a monthly gain of about 3.8%, the most since November, and bring a year-to-date rise to almost 8%.
The last day of trading in April saw U.S. and European benchmarks edge lower after reaching record highs this week on the back of an upbeat first-quarter earnings season.
The star performer in London was heavyweight AstraZeneca AZN.L as better-than-expected results and a second half growth forecast lifted its shares 4.3% and buoyed the broader UK market.
The drugmaker said its COVID-19 vaccine sales were $275 million in the first-quarter and that it was on track to deliver 200 million doses a month from April.
"Despite the intense operational and political challenges created by AZN's COVID-19 vaccine roll out, the core business continues to perform above market expectations in a most challenging quarter, demonstrating strength across therapeutic areas and geographies," Citigroup (NYSE: C ) analysts said in a note.
Another big winner on Friday was Smurfit Kappa SKG.L . Europe's largest paper packaging producer jumped 4.2% after it posted a 6% increase in first-quarter revenue on strong packaging demand. index was further supported by tobacco makers British American Tobacco (JO: SNHJ ) BATS.L and Imperial Brands IMB.L which rose more than 2% each after peer Swedish Match SWMA.ST reported upbeat quarterly profit. BARC.L posted by far the worst performance of the session, losing 7% despite beating expectations with January-March profit more than doubling to 2.4 billion pounds.
"A drop in investment banking earnings, lower revenues and a cautious outlook took the shine off a doubling in profits," wrote Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
Though the equities trading business heavily outperformed, analysts highlighted the 35% drop in revenues from its fixed income, currencies and commodities, which was largely linked to tighter spreads and lower client activity.
The domestically focused midcap FTSE 250 index .FTMC advanced 0.5%.
After the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained a status quo on its monetary policy on Wednesday, investors' focus has now turned towards Bank of England's meeting on May 6 where it might ease its foot off the stimulus pedal and slow bond purchases as Britain's economy rebounds. February, the BoE forecast the economy would grow 5% this year after slumping by almost 10% in 2020.
"The combination of a shallower Q1 contraction, faster exit from lockdown, a more supportive near-term fiscal policy, and a better external backdrop should see the Bank push up its 2021 projections closer to 7% from 5%," wrote Deutsche Bank (DE: DBKGn ) economist Sanjay Raja in a note.
"An inevitable growth upgrade would give the monetary policy committee (MPC) enough ammunition to start QE taper."
Among other stocks, cybersecurity company Darktrace DARK.L soared 32% in its trading debut.
Add Chart to Comment
We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:
- Enrich the conversation
- Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
- Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
- Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
- NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
- Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
- Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
- Only English comments will be allowed.
Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.