British midcaps at record highs on recovery optimism; weaker pound lifts FTSE 100

The blue-chip index rose 0.9 per cent, with heavyweights including Unilever and HSBC Holdings, gaining between 1.9 per cent and 2.1 per cent on a weaker pound. — Reuters pic
The blue-chip index rose 0.9 per cent, with heavyweights including Unilever and HSBC Holdings, gaining between 1.9 per cent and 2.1 per cent on a weaker pound. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, April 8 ― London's FTSE 100 ended higher yesterday, led by gains in commodity stocks and a weaker pound lifted exporters, while mid-caps closed at record highs due to a surge in shares that stand to benefit as the economy reopens.

The blue-chip index rose 0.9 per cent, with heavyweights including Unilever and HSBC Holdings, gaining between 1.9 per cent and 2.1 per cent on a weaker pound.

Commodity-focused stocks boosted the index, with BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc gaining 1.9 per cent and 1.0 per cent, respectively, while miners Rio Tinto, BHP Group added more than 2 per cent.

“British equities have now got a good momentum, there is a clear path for businesses to return to action and with Covid cases coming down, the outlook among investors is extremely positive,” said Michael Baker, an analyst at ETX Capital.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index rose 0.8 per cent to its all-time high.

“We expect UK equities to gain further as the Covid vaccination drive gains more ground, markets are expected to catch up to its European peers,” added Baker.

Britain began rolling out Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccine yesterday in Wales in a boost to the health system after supplies of other shots started to slow.

The FTSE 100 has risen 6.6 per cent so far this year, supported by speedy vaccine rollouts and a raft of economic stimulus, but has been range-bound since early-January as a resurgence in virus cases across Europe and heightened treasury bond yields made investors cautious.

Among other stocks, Hilton Food Group rose 2.9 per cent on higher annual pre-tax profit, while over-50s holidays group Saga jumped 11.4 per cent after it posted profit on an underlying basis.

Deliveroo gained 2.1 per cent, the first day retail investors could trade the stock bought during the food delivery group's initial public offering, even as some of its riders cycled through London to demand fair pay. ― Reuters

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