FTSE 100 closes up as investors cheer factory boost in China
Stock markets appear keen to leap on any sign of good news and Friday was no exception with shares jumping on the back of some decent industrial data from China.
Production in the country returned to growth for the first time this year in April – up 3.9% year-on-year according to official data – as factories started to reopen following lockdown.
The hopes for European economies and boosts to London’s listed mining stocks helped the FTSE 100 close the day up 58.23 points, or 1%, at 5,799.77 – although the week ended down 2.3%.
The FTSE 250 of more UK-focused firms closed the day up 256.18 points, or 1.7%, at 15,660.77, but ended the week down 3.6%.
In Paris, the CAC 40 ended up 0.1%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ended up 1.2%.
Analyst Chris Beauchamp, at IG Group, explained: “The 3.9% rise in Chinese industrial production was one of the bright points from overnight data, and has certainly allowed the FTSE 100 to mount a decent recovery today, with heavyweight mining names leading the move higher.
“Fears of a renewed US-China trade war have also eased off somewhat, but it is likely that these will return, as President Trump looks to utilise every possible advantage to secure re-election in a contest that is now much more of a two-horse race than at the beginning of the year.”
Anglo American closed up 69.6p at 1,433.8p; BHP closed up 58p at 1,413.2p; Rio Tinto up 165p at 3,922p and Glencore up 4.78p at 141.28p.
In company news, Royal Mail shareholders welcomed chief executive Rico Back leaving with immediate effect after less than two years.
Even a £1 million payout was not enough to dampen spirits, with shares closing up 13.6p at 175.95p.
Investors in William Hill were happy at bosses revealing plans to open betting shops again, along with positive momentum in the developing US market.
Shares closed up 8.6p at 115.35p, despite bosses at the firm declining to reveal when the first shops were likely to start inviting customers back.
The Government has said retailers can open again in June, with pubs slated for July.
BT Group shares closed up 5.55p at 107.7p on the back of rumours first reported in the Financial Times that the telecoms giant is looking at selling a stake in its Openreach broadband network.
The company said Openreach would remain part of BT Group, but declined to say whether that could include a future with a minority stakeholder.
And coach business National Express revealed it has started selling UK tickets with plans to get back on the roads from July 1.
Bosses said they would focus on large and medium-sized cities and urban areas and investors welcomed the decision, with shares closing up 10.6p at 916.8p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Meggitt, up 17.1p at 255p, Carnival, up 55.4p at 885.8p, Fresnillo, up 42.4p at 737.6p, BT Group, up 5.55p at 107.7p, and Melrose, up 4.36p at 87.86p.
The biggest fallers of the day were 3I Group, down 31p at 766p, M&G, down 4.25p at 109.15p, Next, down 150p at 4,422p, Ferguson, down 148p at 5,670p, and ABF, down 40.5p at 1,624p.