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China-exposed miners, banks push UK's FTSE 100 higher

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

By Johann M Cherian and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -London's internationally focussed FTSE 100 gained on Wednesday as China's dismantling of COVID-19 restrictions pushed miners and banks higher, while the index still remained cautious of surging COVID cases.

The large-cap FTSE 100 the mid-cap FTSE 250 added 0.3% each.

China scrapped its quarantine rules for inbound travellers starting from Jan. 8 on Monday, but global markets turned jittery as COVID cases rose in the world's second-largest economy. [MKTS/GLOB]

"If the cases don't rise to the point that paralyses economic activity, then it is not going to be a big problem for market sentiment," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at Swissquote bank.

Miners gained 0.5%, tracking rising copper prices after top-consumer China's easing boosted hopes of improving demand. [METL/]

China-focused insurers and banks such as Prudential and HSBC Holdings also rose, gaining 0.6% and 1.5% respectively.

The 200-day and 50-day moving average indicators for the FTSE 100 intersected for the first time since July, a technical phenomenon referred to as the "golden cross".

The "golden cross" indicates a positive trend that is strengthening because of the rising commodity and energy prices, and the trend could continue in the first half of 2023, Ozkardeskaya added.

The blue-chip index is up 1.5% year-to-date, handily outperforming the broader STOXX Europe 600 index, which is expecting falls of over 12%.

Retail destinations enjoyed an almost 40% rise in shopper numbers during the first Christmas in three years without pandemic restrictions in Britain, as per Springboard. The sector climbed 0.8%.

Airlines like Wizz Air and easyJet slipped 4.1% and 2.3% respectively, after Italy's antitrust regulator opened an inquiry into possible price-fixing for flights in and out of Sicily.

Argo Blockchain soared 76.7% as the company said it will sell its crypto mining facility Helios to avoid bankruptcy.

UK markets were closed on Monday and Tuesday for Boxing Day and Christmas Day holidays.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Eileen Soreng and Josie Kao)