FTSE 100 jumps as easing US-China tensions overshadow PM’s exit plans

The FTSE 100 has lifted higher despite Theresa May’s resignation announcement, as an uplift in US-China trade relations dominated sentiment.

London’s leading index closed up 46.69 points at 7,277.73 points.

A number of UK-focused stocks have remained resilient despite fears that Mrs May’s resignation could lead to a harder Brexit.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said: “Stocks exposed to the UK economy, such as house-builders, UK domestic banks RBS and Lloyds, retailers and airlines which could be grounded in the case of a no deal Brexit, are keeping their head above water today.

“These are stocks which could tumble should Boris Johnson come to power and re-position the UK towards the hardest of Brexits.”

The pound did not see the sharp slide some might have expected, with traders already prepared for the Prime Minister’s announcement and the possibility that Mr Johnson will take the reins.

The pound rose 0.43% to 1.270 versus the US dollar and increased 0.21% to 1.134 versus the euro.

The mood lightened among the European stocks after a rough week, with the major markets finishing higher as investor mood surrounding trade tensions appeared to improve.

The German Dax rose by 0.49% and the French CAC jumped by 0.67%.

In stocks, Mothercare shares leapt after the retailer said it will now focus on rebuilding its brand, as it reported widening profits on the back of a drastic restructuring plan.

Headline losses before tax came to £87.3 million for the 53 weeks to March 30, compared to £72.8 million this time last year.

Mothercare shares were up 1.7p at 22.1p at the close of trading.

Elsewhere, Fever-Tree shares sank after the firm’s chairman told shareholders to temper their excitement this summer when it comes achieving record sales, pointing out how unique and successful last summer was for the company.

In March, Fever-Tree revealed a 34% jump in pre-tax profits to £75.6 million on sales of £237.4 million for the last financial year.

Shares in the tonic maker slumped 61p to 2,755p.

Stagecoach shares dipped slightly after it launched its second legal action against the Government in less than a month over the Department for Transport’s decision to ban it from bidding for rail franchises.

The company, along with partners Virgin Trains and French rail business SNCF, has lodged a claim against the Department for Transport with the High Court over the bidding process for the West Coast mainline franchise.

Shares on Stagecoach were down by 0.8p at 126.7p at the close of trading on Friday.

Johnson Matthey saw shares rise ahead of its full-year results next week, where it is expected to post higher profits.

Shares in the company were up 50p at 3,130p.

The price of oil calmed down in the wake of Thursday’s severe sell-off, but still slipped marginally as trade tensions remained.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell by 0.2% to 67.9 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Evraz, up 20p at 606.6p, Antofagasta, up 22.4p at 802p, Hiscox, up 45p at 1,654p, and Auto Trader Group, up 16.2p at 597.4p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were IAG, down 10.4p at 468.4p, Paddy Power Betfair, down 106p at 5,676p, ITV, down 1.3p at 108.05p, and BT Group, down 2.3p at 196.3p.