FTSE recovers from five-month lows to post small gain on quiet day for traders

Thursday was subdued on the global markets, as a tiny rise in the FTSE 100 made it the biggest mover of the day among the major indices in Europe and the US.

London’s top index rose by 0.16% on the day, reaching 5,786, an increase of just 9.15 points.

But what looked like a quiet day by the end of play masks a significant drop of around 1% earlier in the morning, which sent the index down to five-month lows around 5,716 points.

The index had taken a battering on Wednesday as the pound soared on the news that Brussels and London looked closer to reaching a Brexit deal.

But sterling lost a bit of ground on Thursday, dropping 0.5% to buy 1.309 dollars, and 0.1% to reach 1.107 euros.

CMC Markets analyst David Madden said that it was positive noises from the other side of the Atlantic which helped boost London’s top index.

The rise, he said, came “on the back of the optimistic comments from Nancy Pelosi in relation to the stimulus package. Pelosi is the House Speaker, and a short while ago she said that they are nearly there in relation to making an agreement on the Covid-19 relief package.”

He added: “For much of the session, the sentiment in European stocks was weak but the comments prompted some pre-close buying.”

The Dax in Germany dropped by 0.12% and France’s Cac index lost 0.05%.

Their American cousins, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones had risen 0.03% and 0.01% just before 5pm.

In company news, food giant Unilever saw its shares rise by 0.4% after revealing that its sales had dropped by 2.4% to 12.9 billion euros (£11.6 billion) in the three months to the end of September. Most of the drop was due to a weaker euro.

Countrywide fell by 10.4%, recovering some of its massive losses from earlier in the day after it revealed that private equity house Alchemy would up its stake in the estate agent from 50.1% to 67.7% in a £90 million deal.

Travis Perkins revealed a 3.9% rise in like-for-like sales in the most recent quarter, and as much as 8% last month, as the DIY market booms for the Wickes and Toolstation owner.

Shares in British Airways owner IAG rose 4.4% even though it reported a 1.3 billion euro (£1.2 billion) loss in the last quarter, and cut capacity guidance to 30% of last year’s levels.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Hargreaves Lansdown, up 62.5p to 1411p, IAG, up 4.4p to 104.85p, GVC Holdings, up 40p to 1011p, Rentokil, up 20.2p to 537.2p, and Lloyds, up 0.75p to 27.915p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BAE Systems, down 22.6p to 442.3p, Fresnillo, down 46.5p to 1228.5p, Ocado, down 83p to 2342p, DS Smith, down 6.2p to 294.8p, and Homeserve, down 22p to 1147p.

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