By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Resource firms and banks led the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index higher on Friday, as investors remained optimistic that U.S. monetary policy will remain loose after Federal Reserve Chairwoman nominee Janet Yellen defended the central bank's bond-buying program.
The benchmark index rose 0.4% to 6,693.44, trimming its weekly loss to 0.2%.
The gain was a continuation of advances seen in global stock markets on Thursday, when Yellen said the benefits of Fed stimulus outweigh the costs and that the central bank will maintain its asset-purchase program until the U.S. economy is stronger. She also eased concerns that bubbles are forming in the equity markets. Investors have worried that some recent upbeat economic data would bring forward the timing of tapering the bank's asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, but the remarks from Yellen calmed fears of an imminent reduction.
The biggest gainers on Friday were in sectors that are sensitive to monetary easing and typically rise when investors are willing to take on more risk. Among banks, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) put on 1%, and HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) gained 0.6%.
In the resource sector, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) climbed 2%, BP PLC (BP) gained 1%, and BG Group PLC added 0.8%. Oil prices were slightly higher.
Among miners, Anglo American PLC added 1.4%, BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) rose 1%, and Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) picked up 0.8%. Metals prices were mixed.
Bucking the positive trend in the mining sector, shares of Vedanta Resources PLC slid 6.7% after the company said it swung to a first-half loss due to lower commodity prices and a continued ban on iron ore mining in two key Indian states, as well as due to foreign exchange losses and higher net interest expenses.
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