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15 Feb 2021 | 16:15

London close: Stocks finish firmer on renewed vaccine optimism

(Sharecast News) - London stocks finished firmly in positive territory on Monday, while sterling remained above the $1.39 level for the first time in nearly three years amid optimism over the vaccine rollout. The FTSE 100 ended the session up 2.52% at 6,756.11, and the FTSE 250 was 1.81% firmer at 21,418.90.

Sterling was flying high as well, last up 0.48% against the dollar to trade at $1.3916, and advancing 0.32% on the euro to €1.1469.

"It has been a spectacular start to the week for the FTSE 100. In the space of just two sessions the index has added around 200 points and gone a long way to recovering the lost ground from its January selloff," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Investors used to seeing the index lag far behind US and European peers will be cheering on as almost the entire index moves higher."

Beauchamp said commodity and oil names were at the forefront of the surge, bolstered by another move higher in oil prices in a rally that was showing no sign of slowing down, while mining stocks were lifted by gains in raw materials.

"This is a sign that the global 'reopening' trade has no desire to slow down, emboldened by news that the UK has succeeded in giving 15 million people a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

"It certainly makes up for a dull day otherwise, with markets enduring the usual kind of drift seen on US holidays."

A solid session in Asia underpinned the mood earlier in the day, after Japan's Nikkei 225 surged past the 30,000 level for the first time in more than 30 years.

In equity markets, British Airways owner IAG was up 6.76%, Premier Inn owner Whitbread added 7.11%, caterer Compass Group rose 6.14% and travel operator TUI was 9.15% firmer.

Budget airline easyJet ascended 6.56%, Cineworld rocketed 10.59%, National Express was 10.98% higher, FirstGroup flew 7.31% and WH Smith was up 12.34%.

The optimism among some of the most Covid-hit stocks came amid hopes the vaccine rollout would bring a return to more normal life by spring.

A total of 15 million adults in the UK had received their first jab, it was confirmed on Sunday.

Mitchells & Butlers was also in focus, rising 7.91% after reporting plans to raise £350m through an open offer.

The pub operator said it had also reached agreement with its banks for a new £150m three-year year unsecured revolving credit facility to bolster its balance sheet.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce gained 3.47% after saying it has hired former Deloitte partner Panos Kakoullis as chief financial officer to help steer the company through the crisis in the aviation industry.

Banks were on the front foot, with Barclays up 5.52%, NatWest ahead 4.87% and Lloyds 5.36% firmer.

Barclays and NatWest are slated to report earnings later in the week.

Oil giants BP and Shell gushed higher, by 6.53% and 6.1% respectively, as oil prices hit 13-month highs, while Auto Trader was lifted 3.88% by an upgrade to 'buy' at Peel Hunt.

GlaxoSmithKline recovered from earlier losses, with the dollar earner closing up 0.72%, while other companies that rely on revenue in the US currency remained in the red.

AstraZeneca was down 0.66%, Experian slipped 0.08%, and Ferguson was 0.22% weaker.

Moneysupermarket was knocked 0.75% lower, meanwhile, by a downgrade to 'hold' at Liberum.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,756.11 2.52% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,418.90 1.81% techMARK (TASX) 4,176.97 0.77%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Whitbread (WTB) 3,435.00p 7.11% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 159.35p 6.76% BP (BP.) 278.90p 6.53% Compass Group (CPG) 1,496.00p 6.14% Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,379.60p 6.10% Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,436.00p 5.73% Barclays (BARC) 153.96p 5.52% Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,348.00p 5.43% Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 39.05p 5.36% BHP Group (BHP) 2,228.00p 5.22%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 7,838.00p -1.16% AstraZeneca (AZN) 7,422.00p -0.66% Ferguson (FERG) 8,902.00p -0.22% Experian (EXPN) 2,638.00p -0.08% RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 677.20p -0.06% Bunzl (BNZL) 2,360.00p 0.13% Relx plc (REL) 1,871.00p 0.24% SEGRO (SGRO) 972.00p 0.25% Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,371.00p 0.34% Fresnillo (FRES) 1,024.00p 0.34%

FTSE 250 - Risers

WH Smith (SMWH) 1,739.00p 12.34% National Express Group (NEX) 317.40p 10.98% Cineworld Group (CINE) 82.72p 10.59% TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 346.00p 9.15% Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 132.25p 8.17% Carnival (CCL) 1,363.00p 7.92% Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 354.50p 7.91% FirstGroup (FGP) 83.85p 7.31% Rank Group (RNK) 131.60p 6.99% Hammerson (HMSO) 22.65p 6.79%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Micro Focus International (MCRO) 447.80p -4.01% Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 1,024.00p -1.54% Cranswick (CWK) 3,506.00p -1.41% Games Workshop Group (GAW) 10,270.00p -1.34% Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 7,838.00p -1.16% PZ Cussons (PZC) 264.00p -1.13% Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 620.00p -0.96% Diploma (DPLM) 2,510.00p -0.95% Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund Limited (SEQI) 108.00p -0.92% Group (MONY) 265.00p -0.75%
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