LONDON: UK's exporter-heavy FTSE 100 rose on Friday, boosted by mining stocks as metal prices rose on hopes of a recovery in China, while overnight comments from a Federal Reserve official backing a measured pace of rate hikes helped sentiment.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 0.2%, while the more domestically focussed FTSE 250 midcap index added 0.4%.
For the week, both the indexes are on track to rise more than 1%. Industrial metal miners gained 2.1% as promising economic data from China buoyed demand prospects and lifted metal prices.
The mining index is set for its best weekly performance in four months. Global markets tracked overnight gains in U.S. stocks after Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic advocated sticking with "slow and steady" rate hikes, easing fears about the central bank's monetary tightening that had hurt equities in February.
British stocks, however, had bucked the trend. The resources-heavy FTSE 100 posted its best February performance since 2019 on positive earnings and a boost to commodity prices. Meanwhile, data showed Britain's dominant services sector grew at the fastest pace in eight months in February on stronger business confidence and an improved economic outlook.
"The UK economy is holding up a little bit better than many people expected in the near term," said Michael Bell, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in London. "The question is how sustainable that is ... so it will be interesting to see whether the UK economy can maintain the resilience."
Among individual stocks, Rightmove fell 2.2% after the British property portal reported a decline in the level of engagement seen on its site during 2022. Pearson slid 0.8% after the education group did not announce a further share buyback despite offering a positive outlook.
Oilfield services firm Hunting dropped 3.9% after Berenberg downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy".
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