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26 Jan 2021 | 16:27

London close: Stocks firmer as IMF upgrades global forecasts

(Sharecast News) - London stocks finished in the green on Tuesday, despite the release of uninspiring jobs and retail sales data, as investors focussed on the latest growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund. The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.23% at 6,654.01, and the FTSE 250 was 0.48% firmer at 20,448.36.

Sterling was in positive territory as well, last gaining 0.41% on the dollar to change hands at $1.3731, and advancing 0.23% against the euro to €1.1292.

"Stock markets were already driving higher this morning and the bullish move was given extra help by the IMF, who lifted their expectations for the world growth," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The IMF revised its 2021 global growth forecast to 5.5%, up from the 5.2% prediction in October, but cautioned that new variants of the virus are a concern for 2021's outlook."

Investors were also mulling the latest survey from the Confederation of British Industry, which showed that retail sales fell to their lowest level in January since May 2020 as lockdown took its toll.

The CBI's monthly gauge of retail sales slid to -50 from -3 in December, coming in below consensus expectations for a reading of -33.

Meanwhile, the gauge for sales expectations for February came in at -47%, hitting the lowest level since July.

"Today's data brings home the ongoing challenges of lockdown for the retail sector, as sales volumes weaken once again," said CBI economist Ben Jones.

"On the upside, while the headline balance points to a fall in sales across many sub-sectors, the experience of the past few months suggests the decline won't be anything like as severe as in spring 2020.

"With the lockdown likely to remain in place in the near-term, retailers expect this weakness to continue."

Jones said it was therefore "vital" that government support continued alongside restrictions.

In equity markets, caterer Compass Group closed up 4.13% after an upgrade to 'neutral' from 'underperform' at Exane.

Opioid addiction treatment maker Indivior surged 13.14% after Reckitt Benckiser said it would withdraw a $1.4bn claim against the company.

Indivior agreed to pay the consumer goods giant $50m to end the legal battle related to a US probe into opioid addiction.

Crest Nicholson rose 1.05% after the housebuilder reinstated its dividend despite swinging to a full-year loss.

Travel and leisure stocks were also in the black, having fallen sharply on Monday and earlier in the session amid worries about the impact of prolonged lockdowns and travel restrictions.

On the downside, Rolls-Royce slumped 1.71% after saying it expects £2bn in cash burn this year, with widebody engine flying hours falling to 55% of 2019 levels compared with 70% previously forecast as new variants of Covid-19 and enhanced travel restrictions created short-term uncertainty.

JD Sports Fashion was 3.03% weaker after it confirmed it is exploring additional funding options with a view to increasing its flexibility "to invest in future strategic opportunities", and said this may involve a non preemptive equity placing.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,654.01 0.23% FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,448.36 0.48% techMARK (TASX) 4,169.26 0.43%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Pearson (PSON) 761.40p 6.04% Compass Group (CPG) 1,383.50p 4.69% Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,001.00p 3.80% Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,755.00p 3.05% Informa (INF) 506.80p 2.84% British Land Company (BLND) 441.20p 2.65% Aveva Group (AVV) 3,899.00p 2.20% Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,723.50p 1.93% 3i Group (III) 1,156.00p 1.90% Aviva (AV.) 347.50p 1.82%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

M&G (MNG) 183.40p -3.85% Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,120.00p -3.59% Whitbread (WTB) 2,935.00p -3.29% JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 793.20p -3.03% Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 6,376.00p -2.72% Bunzl (BNZL) 2,403.00p -2.08% Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,600.00p -1.89% Glencore (GLEN) 255.00p -1.83% Fresnillo (FRES) 1,067.00p -1.80% Polymetal International (POLY) 1,649.50p -1.79%

FTSE 250 - Risers

Indivior (INDV) 144.70p 13.14% Airtel Africa (AAF) 79.30p 6.30% Cineworld Group (CINE) 72.74p 6.00% Shaftesbury (SHB) 542.00p 5.96% Micro Focus International (MCRO) 403.90p 5.40% TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 242.65p 5.36% Hammerson (HMSO) 20.28p 5.08% IWG (IWG) 320.00p 4.85% UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 818.00p 4.80% Coats Group (COA) 62.00p 4.03%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,120.00p -3.59% Avon Rubber (AVON) 3,150.00p -3.25% Greencore Group (GNC) 113.20p -2.83% Spirent Communications (SPT) 247.50p -2.75% Signature Aviation (SIG) 410.00p -2.64% Grafton Group Ut (GFTU) 865.50p -2.20% John Laing Group (JLG) 322.40p -1.89% UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 65.00p -1.81% Essentra (ESNT) 287.00p -1.78% Petropavlovsk (POG) 30.55p -1.77%
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