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Lloyds, WPP drive FTSE 100 higher; Fed outcome eyed

Lloyds, WPP drive FTSE 100 higher; Fed outcome eyed 1

By Devik Jain and Medha Singh

(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 climbed on Wednesday, lifted by energy shares and a slew of upbeat earnings updates from companies including Lloyds Banking Group and WPP as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy statement.

The blue-chip index rose 0.3%, with oil heavyweights BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc providing the biggest boost as oil prices firmed. [O/R]

WPP rose 2.8% after the world’s biggest advertising company said its underlying net sales returned to growth as clients started to spend to prepare for the global economic recovery.

Lloyds Banking Group added 3.5% after Britain’s biggest domestic bank reported upbeat profit for the first three months of the year.

The wider banking index added 1.4%, rising for the fifth straight session with Barclays and Natwest Group rising ahead of their earnings reports this week.

Worlds stocks neared record highs as focused shifted to the Fed’s statement which is expected to reiterate the U.S. central bank’s pledge of monetary support for some time while awaiting results from heavyweights Apple Inc and Facebook Inc.

“Powell will need to continue walking the fine line between sounding optimistic whilst reining in expectations,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at City Index in London.

The FTSE 100 has gained about 8% year-to-date on optimism that speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and constant policy support from the government would drive a stronger economic recovery.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended nearly flat.

Reckitt Benckiser Group dropped about 4% as a weak flu season saw fewer people reach for cold remedies and declining birth rates hit sales of baby formula products. Still, the company posted better-than-expected quarterly sales.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)

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