By Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top share index rose on Friday, spurred strongly into positive territory after U.S. jobs data and led up by buoyancy in the oil and gas sector following a string of upgrades.
U.S. non-farm payrolls painted a brightening picture of the economy, showing that 203,000 extra jobs were generated last month, ahead of forecasts for an increase of 180,000.
Predictions into the number had suggested that such a figure may raise the chances that the U.S. Federal Reserve may slow - or "taper" its equity-friendly monetary stimulus this year, but with some late whispers of an even stronger number, traders said that the figure was reassuring.
"It's good, but it isn't too good. Some were looking for 250,000 before there'd be a kneejerk reaction with worries over tapering," Will Hedden, sales trader at IG, said.
"We were thinking the market might come off with such a number, but the market had been feeling like the number might come in above the official estimates... It looks like it's not enough of a beat."
The FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent in the 45 minutes after the data came out.
At the close, the index was up 53.66 points, or 0.8 percent, at 6,551.99 points, after closing at its lowest in more than three weeks on Thursday.
Worries over tapering have hit the FTSE in recent weeks, and it is still set for its worst weekly fall since June, and its fifth weekly fall in succession.
"With a slightly lighter week for economic data next week, investors might see a clear way to push the FTSE a little higher" Jeremy Batstone-Carr, analyst at Charles Stanley, said.
"However, the fact is that most are entirely comfortable with locking in their 2013 gains at the moment."
Leading the index up on the day was the oil and gas sector, which benefitted from bullish comment by HSBC.
Royal Dutch Shell jumped 2.9 percent after the UK-listed bank initiated the stock with an "overweight" rating, contributing 13.5 points to the index's advance.
Shell's peers BG and BP also rose after the bank rated them at "overweight," and energy services firm Petrofac was the top FTSE riser, up 3.6 percent, with HSBC also lifting its price for Brent oil.(Editing by Toby Chopra)