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MARKET REPORT: Footsie hits highest level in more than a year

The FTSE 100 finished above 7,000 for the first time since the middle of April as confidence mounted about a global economic recovery.

Oilers, miners and banks – the sectors most likely to benefit from an upturn – were on all the charge.

Metals provide a bellwether for global growth prospects and on the London Metal Exchange copper and nickel rose 2 per cent, while tin added 4 per cent as demand from the China and the US rose further.

Recovery hopes: Oilers, miners and banks were on all the charge as the FTSE 100 finished above 7,000 for the first time since the middle of April last year

As a result, Anglo American was the top riser on the blue-chip index, adding 6.3 per cent, or 193.5p, at 3271p. 

This was closely followed by BHP Group, up 5 per cent, or 109.5p, to 2306p, Rio Tinto – 4.7 per cent, or 290p, higher at 6408p – and Glencore, up 4.6 per cent, or 13.7p, to 309.9p.

On the oil markets, Brent crude was nearing $70 per barrel, up 1 per cent at $69.34. This helped BP gain 2.7 per cent, or 8.35p, at 318.5p and Shell add 2 per cent, or 26p, to hit 1334.2p.

Traders said that Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen’s comments on Tuesday about interest rates rising had helped. Neil Wilson, analyst at Markets, said: ‘It slowly sunk in that what she was actually saying was a positive about the US economy and its return to growth this year.’

Stock Watch – Botswana Diamonds

Mining tiddler Botswana Diamonds soared after it discovered more diamonds at its site at Thorny River in northern South Africa.

It believes two of the areas where it found more of the gems are connected.

This, it says, would amount to a ‘significant’ find.

The AIM-listed company will try to confirm this with 3D modelling of the sites by the end of May.

Shares in the group increased by 15.1 per cent, or 0.16p, to 1.18p yesterday. 

Her remarks came as the Bank of England is expected to raise economic forecasts for the UK today. Banks, which do well in a higher interest environment, were also on the leaderboard.

Barclays was 3.4 per cent, or 5.86p, up at 176.76p and Natwest finished 3,2 per cent, or 6.25p, higher at 199.25p.

The gains meant the FTSE 100 had its best day for two months, closing up 1.7 per cent, or 116.13 points, at 7039.30. 

The last time the index finished above 7,000 was on April 19. The index has gained 9 per cent this year, boosted by speedy vaccine rollouts and the easing of restrictions after the third lockdown.

The Cac 40 in Paris was up 1.4 per cent, while the Dax in Frankfurt added 2 per cent, as Europe followed suit.

But there were notable fallers in London, in particular stocks that have performed well in lockdowns. 

Delivery firm Ocado fell 2.1 per cent, or 42p, to 1962p, Just Eat fell 1.2 per cent, or 89p, to 7181p and Rentokil was off 0.4 per cent, or 1.7p at 486p.

On the FTSE 250, Magners cider maker C&C Group lost 3.5 per cent, or 10.6p, to finish at 288p after Ireland backed plans for minimum alcohol pricing by 2022.

Fears are that the legislation could double the price of alcohol being sold in supermarkets.

Direct Line also fell after the insurer said that low levels of new car sales and fewer new drivers meant premiums plunged. Shares fell 0.3 per cent, or 0.9p, to 286.1p.

Rival Hiscox finished in the red, off 1.4- per cent, or 11.2p, at 800p, after it warned it had set aside £34million for the freak Texas snowstorm in February. 

Shares fell 1.4 per cent, or 11.2p, to 800p. But the falls could not subdue mid-cap sentiment and the index rose by 0.3 per cent, or 55.86 points to 22,385.90.

Investors in Neil Woodford’s former investment trust also had their best day in a while, after it sold some more of his old assets.

The Schroder UK Public Private Trust – previously known as the Woodford Patient Capital Trust –jumped 14.2 per cent, or 4.4p, to 35.5p after it sold cancer treatment company Kuur Therapeutics and liquid biopsy firm Inivata.

Kuur was snapped up by US pharma firm Athenex, in a deal expected to net investors £6million of Athenex shares and up to £10million more over the next few years.

US laboratories firm Neogenomics bought Inivata, handing the trust £27.6million, a big increase on the £13.1million which it had previously valued the stake at. 

But challenger banks failed to impress after Virgin Money – the UK’s sixth biggest lender – recorded exceptional costs of £173million. It fell 1.20 per cent, or 2.4p, to 198.3p.

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