LONDON -- Despite falling 28 points on the day on Friday to 6,215, the FTSE 100 had its first positive week since it closed at 6,723 points on Friday, May 17 -- over the week it gained 99 points from the previous week's close of 6,116. Investors, it seems, have realized that the U.S. economy is actually likely to survive a cutting-back of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing policy after all.
After our previous look at the FTSE showed us only falls, this week we'll be optimistic and look at just a few gains instead.
Vodafone gained 12 pence (6.4%) to end the week at 188 pence after the price followed the FTSE down and back up again over the past couple of weeks. But the price rebounded higher, partly after Deutsche Bank upgraded its recommendation and set a 217 pence target on the stock. Is that realistic? Well, with one of the best forecast dividends of the FTSE 100 of around 6%, and at a forward P/E of only 12, I wouldn't bet against it.
Investors in easyJet have had a great year, with shares in the low-cost airline having soared by 150% over the past 12 months -- and over the past week, the price picked up a nice 51 pence (4.1%) to 1,296 pence. The firm's recent announcement of a serious revamp of its fleet with the purchase of up to 235 new planes gave the company a boost, and sentiment is positive ahead of June passenger statistics due next week and a third-quarter update on July 24.
Serco Group (LSE:SRP)
Outsourcing specialist Serco Group provided us with an update ahead of first-half results on Friday, giving the stock price a boost -- it ended the week up 30.5 pence (5.2%) at 616.5 pence after the company told us it should be reporting "strong organic revenue growth ahead of ... expectations." The upbeat start to the year has come largely as a result of a record level of new contracts last year. Full-year forecasts suggest a modest 2% rise in earnings, putting the stock at a forward P/E of 14, in line with the FTSE long-term average.
Asset manager Schroders is in favor at the moment, with its shares finishing the week 85 pence (4.1%) ahead at 2,183 pence. The price had actually been slipping back a bit, but it's still up nearly 70% over the past 12 months. With analysts boosting their stances on the company, Schroders is currently forecast to record a rise of nearly 25% in earnings per share for the year to December, with a modest but well-covered 2.4% dividend on the cards. The forward P/E of 17 might look like a bit high, but there's further strong growth expected for 2014, too.
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Vodafone Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.