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EasyJet shares soar after PAX figures

Friday, April 04 11:51:31

Britain's top equity index edged up today, with airline easyJet hitting record highs after robust traffic figures, although investors were reluctant to place big bets ahead of key U.S. jobs data later in the day.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up by 0.4 percent, or 24.55 points, at 6,673.69 points - within touching distance of three-week highs.

"If we can sustain a move above 6,680 points, the outlook will look reasonably positive," said Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry.

EasyJet was the best-performing FTSE 100 stock in percentage terms.

It rose more than 2 percent, having earlier touched record highs, after unveiling a 4.8 percent rise in passenger traffic in March. That compared with a 4 percent decline reported by rival budget airline Ryanair on Thursday.

"EasyJet's one of my favourite stocks. They've got very good pricing, they've managed to keep their costs down, and they're increasing their average revenue per seat," said Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital.

The U.S. jobs data will take centre stage on Friday, although some analysts are likely to remain bullish on the market even in the event of weaker-than-expected data.

A Reuters poll forecast an acceleration in U.S. jobs growth in March, with non-farm payrolls probably increasing by 200,000, which would be the largest gain in four months.

The European Central Bank's reiteration on Thursday that it could take new measures to help the euro zone economy has supported equity markets, while Britain's unexpectedly strong economic recovery is also propping up its stock market.

"We think the UK economy could generate above-trend economic growth for some time," wrote Deutsche Bank's equity strategists, who targeted a record level of 7,500 points for the FTSE 100 by the end of 2014. (Reuters)