* FTSE 100 rebounds after Putin speech

* FTSE 100 moves above 200-day moving average level

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) – Britain’s top equity index rose on Tuesday to recover from earlier losses, as stock markets rebounded after a speech from Russia concerning tensions with its neighbour Ukraine.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up by 0.3 percent, or 21.06 points, at 6,589.41 points in mid-session trading.

The index had been in negative territory for much of the day, but then rallied after Russian President Vladimir 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 which was reached in late January.

The FTSE rose 14.4 percent in 2013 to post its best annual gain since 2009. However, although many traders expect the index to hit a record level of 7,000 points later in 2014, it has failed to break above the 6,900 point level so far this year.

Logic Investments’ trading director Darren Easton said he would only buy back into the FTSE 100 if it rose and held above the 6,600 point level.

“If it does not get back above 6,600, I’ll leave it alone for now,” he said.

However, some other technical traders saw support for the FTSE coming in from the fact that the index’s rebound had pushed it above its 200-day simple moving average level – often used by such traders as a sign that a market’s decline has run its course.