Markets rally on global government stimulus promises

Markets rallied again on Wednesday, building on the previous day’s record results, as news out of the US continues to fill traders with hope of better times.

Despite what was at times a topsy-turvy day, with the FTSE 100 swinging from almost 5,750 points shortly after opening, to around 5,400 at midday, London’s top index ended at 5688.2, away from the extremes.

It was a 242.19 point increase, or 4.5%.

It came after the FTSE registered its biggest ever points jump on Thursday, and its second largest percentage increase in history.

It comes as the German government passed a massive rescue bill, and the US Senate looks set to approve its two trillion dollar (£1.7 trillion) rescue package.

“Government intervention is the name of the game today as Germany will pursue a 750 billion euro rescue package,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.

The US scheme, which was hammered out overnight between Senate Republicans and Democrats, will send cheques to most Americans in the post to stimulate demand, and help businesses and banks.

The bill will still need to be given the thumbs up by Congress.

The good mood was replicated on the other side of the pond where the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were up by more than 3% and 5% respectively.

On the continent, France’s Cac index gained 3.7%, while the Frankfurt-based Dax jumped by 1.3%.

A pound is now worth more on global markets, as sterling gained 0.7% to 1.1834. One pound will buy 1.0911 euros, a 0.1% rise.

In company news, shares in Halfords jumped by over a quarter as it announced that some stores will be re-opened and it revealed recent weeks had seen “very strong” sales.

Next shares surged 8% as it offered staff a 20% bonus if they volunteered to come to work and pick clothes for online orders.

Housebuilders Persimmon rose 15%, while Bellway dropped 1.5% even as both revealed they were shutting construction sites as demand for new homes plummets.

Finally, Rentokil performed poorly, dropping 8% after revealing that coronavirus will have “a much more significant impact on operations” than first thought. It also revealed that it would train 2,500 new disinfectant specialists.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were JD Sports, up 87.1p to 519.2p, Legal & General, up 26.1p to 187.65p, Persimmon, up 258.5p to 1950p, AB Food, up 244.5p to 1852p, and Royal Bank of Scotland, up 16.5p to 136.75p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Rentokil Initial, down 30.3p to 340.1p, Polymetal, down 48p to 1,271.5p, WM Morrison, down 6.05p to 173.7p, Coca Cola, down 53.5p to 1,746.5p, and Melrose Industries, down 2.85p to 100.5p.