LONDON (ShareCast) – – Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL – news) , Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB – news) lift sentiment after results
– FTSE 100 at highest since March 7th
– Miners Anglo, ABG and Centamin (Toronto: CEE.TO – news) rise

techMARK 2,762.55 +0.74%
FTSE 100 6,708.61 +0.51%
FTSE 250 16,070.47 +0.51%

Forecast-beating quarterly results from Wall Street heavyweights Apple and Facebook fed through to an upbeat start on UK stock markets on Thursday morning.

The FTSE 100 pushed through the key psychological barrier of 6,700 in early trading, a level it has not closed above since March 7th.

The index was up 0.5% at 6,709 in early trade.

Apple’s share price surged in after-hours trading last night after the US tech giant beat forecasts with its quarterly results and added a further $ 30bn to its share buyback programme. Higher-than-expected sales of iPhones helped Apple to deliver earnings per share (EPS) of $ 11.62 in its fiscal second quarter, up 15% year-on-year and ahead of the $ 10.18 estimate.

Social media titan Facebook also rose strongly after it smashed profit forecasts in its first quarter, as a surge in mobile advertising led to a jump in revenues. EPS almost trebled to 34 cents, much better than the forecast for 24 cents.

The economic data calendar for today looks a little light, though jobless claims figures from the States will be in focus later on as always. Consensus estimates are for a slight pick-up in claims to 310,000 last week, from 304,000 the week before.

Global M&A activity was also helping sentiment today on reports that US conglomerate General Electric (Swiss: GE.SW – news) is eyeing French industrial manufacturing Alstom (Paris: FR0010220475 – news) in a deal worth $ 13bn.

This follows bid speculation surrounding AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN – news) and a multi-billion pound deal between pharma peers Novartis (Xetra: NOT.DE – news) and GlaxoSmithKline (Other OTC: GLAXF – news) which gave markets a boost earlier in the week.

Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L – news) , African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) , Centamin

Diversified miner Anglo American was leading markets higher this morning after impressing with production increases ahead of expectations across the board.

African Barrick Gold was higher after reporting an 18% increase in gold output in the first quarter, whilst delivering its sixth successive quarterly reduction in costs. The company also announced that is has approved the next step in the optimisation of its Bulyanhulu project and expects production to ramp up.

Meanwhile, gold mining peer Centamin gained after saying that thanks to a new investment law brought in by the Egyptian government, it will try and dismiss an ongoing court case over rights to its Sukari mine in the country.

Consumer goods giant Unilever (NYSE: UL – news) signalled an upturn in Europe in its first quarter but said growth was slowing in emerging markets as it reported a 6.3% fall in turnover to €11.4bn euros due to currency headwinds, causing shares to fall this morning.

Revenue growth of 3% at AstraZeneca was better than expected in the first quarter, driven by the pharmaceutical company’s diabetes franchise. Shares were up early on despite earnings falling more than expected.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Anglo American (AAL) 1,596.00p +3.17%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,443.00p +2.49%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 416.70p +2.31%
Smiths Group (Other OTC: SMGKF – news) (SMIN) 1,297.00p +2.29%
AstraZeneca (EUREX: AZNF.EX – news) (AZN) 4,129.50p +2.15%
Standard Life (LSE: SL.L – news) (SL.) 390.20p +2.01%
Weir Group (Frankfurt: 42W.F – news) (WEIR) 2,710.00p +1.96%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,718.00p +1.90%
Mondi (Frankfurt: KYC.F – news) (MNDI) 1,015.00p +1.86%
Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L – news) (HL.) 1,219.00p +1.84%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Unilever (Amsterdam: UNIA.AS – news) (ULVR) 2,605.00p -1.10%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,309.00p -0.91%
Carnival (Berlin: CVC1.BE – news) (CCL) 2,276.00p -0.74%
British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L – news) (BATS) 3,392.50p -0.72%
Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF.L – news) (ABF) 2,942.00p -0.68%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,527.00p -0.67%
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU – news) (PSON) 1,050.00p -0.57%
SSE (Berlin: SCT.BE – news) (SSE (LSE: SSE.L – news) ) 1,490.00p -0.47%
National Grid (LSE: NG.L – news) (NG.) 819.50p -0.43%
Whitbread (Frankfurt: WHF4.F – news) (WTB) 4,055.00p -0.42%

FTSE 250 – Risers
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS – news) ) (CEY) 61.60p +10.10%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 201.30p +9.52%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 258.10p +3.99%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 159.70p +3.43%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 1,022.00p +3.08%
Genus (GNS) 1,047.00p +2.75%
Pace (PIC) 408.50p +2.64%
Henderson Group (LSE: HGG.L – news) (HGG) 253.00p +2.43%
Hunting (HTG) 862.00p +2.19%
Wood Group (Frankfurt: JWG1.F – news) (John) (WG.) 789.00p +2.14%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
Spirent Communications (Other OTC: SPMYY – news) (SPT (Taiwan OTC: 8431.TWO – news) ) 101.50p -2.40%
Infinis Energy (Frankfurt: IF0.F – news) (INFI) 219.50p -2.36%
Alent (LSE: ALNT.L – news) (ALNT) 309.40p -2.21%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.71 -1.35%
Fidessa Group (LSE: FDSA.L – news) (FDSA) 2,499.00p -1.15%
Croda International (Other OTC: COIHF – news) (CRDA) 2,552.00p -1.12%
Genesis Emerging Markets Fund Ltd Ptg NPV (GSS) 507.50p -1.07%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,170.00p -0.85%
Bellway (BWY) 1,522.00p -0.85%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 860.00p -0.75%