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FTSE 100 breaks above 7,000-mark for first time since last year's pandemic-led crash
London's FTSE 100 rose above the 7,000-mark on Friday for the first time since the pandemic pummelled financial markets last year, as speedy vaccine rollouts and government policy support lifted optimism about a stronger economic recovery.
The blue-chip index climbed 0.4% to 7,008.40. Heavyweight industrials, mining, and banking stocks that stand to benefit from an economic re-opening gained between 0.8% and 1.2%. Globally, the sentiment was bolstered after a batch of Chinese and U.S. economic data helped investors price in a solid recovery from a coronavirus-led slump.
The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index gained 0.2% to hit a record high, with travel and leisure stocks being among the biggest gainers. Retailer WH Smith added 3.7% after RBC upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "sector perform" on signs of rising travel demand in key international markets.
"We're repeating what happened in the U.S. ... and it's just optimism that the health crisis is being well managed, that the herd immunity is being reached a little bit earlier than expected and that's helping to propel equities to higher values," said Sebastien Galy, a macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. The FTSE 100 has bounced back nearly 40% from its pandemic closing low of 4,993.89 on March 23, 2020, when Britain underwent its first lockdown to curb the fast-spreading coronavirus.
Among other stocks, Man Group rose 0.4% after the hedge fund manager said it expected customers to put in more money in the coming quarters as client engagement was positive this year. Ashmore Group slid 0.3% after its assets under management fell by $3.1 billion during the first three months of 2021, as market volatility hurt performance.
Shares of TI Fluid Systems Plc declined 5.8% to the bottom of the FTSE 250 index after a discounted share placement.