* FTSE 100 rebounds after Putin speech
* FTSE closes up 0.6 pct at 6,605.28 points
* Index moves above 200-day moving average
* Carnival (LSE: CCL.L – news) and BAE buoyed by broker upgrades
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index rose on Tuesday as stock markets rebounded after a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, which some traders interpreted as being conciliatory in tone.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up 0.6 percent, or 36.93 points, at 6,605.28 points – marking only the second time in the last eight sessions that it has ended in positive territory.
Defence and aerospace company BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L – news) was the best-performing FTSE stock in percentage terms, rising 2.9 percent after investment bank RBC (MCX: RBCM.ME – news) raised its rating on the stock to “outperform” from “sector perform”.
Cruise ship operator Carnival also climbed 2.2 percent to 2,433 pence after UBS (Xetra: UB0BL6 – news) raised its price target on the shares to 2,600 pence from 2,500 pence.
The FTSE had been in negative territory but then rallied after Putin said Russia did not want to seize more of Ukraine after approving plans to make Crimea part of Russia.
Putin also said that while Russia would look to defend its own interests, Russia would never seek to start a confrontation with Western powers.
“It’s not quite as aggressive as some people had thought,” said Mark Ward, head of execution trading at Sanlam Securities.
In spite of the FTSE’s rebound, the index remains below its 2014 peak of 6,867.42 points in late January, with global stock markets having lost ground on the back of the tensions in Crimea and concerns about a possible economic slowdown in China.
The FTSE rose 14.4 percent in 2013 to post its best annual gain since 2009.
Many traders expect the index to hit a record high of 7,000 points later in 2014 as Britain’s economic recovery slowly gathers momentum, but the FTSE has failed to break above the 6,900 point level so far this year and is down by 2 percent since the start of 2014.
Some other technical traders saw support for the FTSE from the fact that the index’s rebound had pushed it above its 200-day simple moving average – often used by such traders as a sign that a market’s decline has run its course.
Adrian Slack, technical strategist at London-based firm APS Alpha, said that if the FTSE could hold above that 200-day average – which lies around 6,580 points – it could then push on to reach 6,750 points.
“I fancy the FTSE to push higher as long as it can hold above that 200-day moving average,” he said.