European markets return to gains amid cryptocurrency revival

Europe’s major markets rebounded on the back of a recovery in cryptocurrency and calm over potential inflation rises.

London stocks made strong gains despite a poor showing by commodity firms as UK-centric businesses were buoyed by a strong improvement in factory production from the latest CBI manufacturing figures.

The FTSE 100 closed 69.59 points higher, or 1%, at 7,019.79 on Thursday.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “After yesterday’s shenanigans European markets have rebounded quite strongly, setting aside yesterday’s concerns over cryptocurrency volatility and the US central banks stance on inflation to close higher, and mark a welcome respite to the declines of the last couple of days.

“Having fallen back below the 7,000 level on Wednesday, and hitting a low of 6,897, we’ve spent most of today’s trading session trying to get back above it.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the main financial markets bounced higher as optimism in the US helped to spark a rally in afternoon trading.

The German Dax increased by 1.7% and the French Cac moved 1.29% higher.

In the US, the Dow Jones started on a positive note after losses in recent sessions, rising after weekly jobless claims figures were better than analysts had predicted.

Meanwhile, sterling lifted higher against the dollar as it benefited from optimism surrounding factory order figures, which saw their strongest performance since late 2018.

The pound increased by 0.19% versus the US dollar to 1.418 and was up 0.15% against the euro at 1.160.

In company news, Trainline shares lost almost a quarter of their value after the UK government announced plans to launch a state-backed ticketing platform as part of a wide overhaul of UK railways.

The new Great British Railways (GBR) body will set most fares and timetable, and sell tickets.

Trainline told shareholders it was “supportive” of the plan and that it was broadly in line with its expectations, but shares in the firm still tumbled by 99.4p to 328.6p.

Elsewhere, budget airliner EasyJet saw its shares dip after it revealed widened half-year losses and said it expects to fly only around 15% of its pre-pandemic flight programme until the end of June.

It closed 20.2p lower at 962.8p as it reported underlying losses of £701 million for the six months to March 31 against £193 million a year ago.

Retailer N Brown dropped in value after it reported slumps in sales and profits for the past year following “challenges” caused by the pandemic.

The Jacamo owner was down 4.05p at 66.3p at the end of trading after it revealed that pre-tax profits tumbled by 72.3% to £9.9 million for the year to February.

The price of oil slipped lower for the third consecutive day amid speculation that sanctions could be eased against Iran, resulting in an increase in oil supply from the region.

The price of Brent crude decreased by 0.56% to 66.29 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Experian, up 122p at 2,702p, Rightmove, up 22.2p at 601p, Compass Group, up 54p at 1,542.5p, and Flutter Entertainment, up 440p at 12,670p.

The biggest faller on the index were Antofagasta, down 36p at 1,522.5p, Tesco, down 5.35p at 226.45p, IAG, down 2.74p at 191.8p, and Fresnillo, down 11.4p at 879p.