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By Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar
(Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 ended above the 7,000 mark on Friday for the first time since the pandemic pummelled risk assets last year and gained for the second consecutive week as falling coronavirus infections lifted optimism about a stronger economic recovery.
The blue-chip index climbed 0.5%, led by gains in precious metal and base metal miners, which rose 1.7% and 0.7% respectively and heavyweight banking stocks that stand to benefit from an economic re-opening gained 1.7%.
“Value-style stocks offering jam today rather than jam tomorrow have been in demand, as well as lots of companies well placed to benefit from the reopening of the economy thanks to the rollout of the COVID vaccines," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England dropped sharply to its lowest level since September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday, further bolstering sentiment towards a quicker revival.
The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index gained 0.2% for the third consecutive session to hit a fresh record high.
Globally, sentiment was bolstered after a batch of Chinese and U.S. economic data helped investors price in a solid recovery from a coronavirus-led slump. [MKTS/GLOB]
The FTSE 100 has bounced back nearly 40% from its pandemic closing low in March and is nearly 8% away from its January 2020 high as investor confidence in a faster economic revival strengthened on speedy vaccines and fiscal support.
Among other stocks, Man Group rose 0.5% after the hedge fund manager said it expected customers to put in more money in the coming quarters as client engagement was positive this year.
Ashmore Group dropped 3.4% to the bottom of the FTSE 250 index after its assets under management fell by $3.1 billion during the first three months of 2021, as market volatility hurt performance.
(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Uttaresh.V and Jonathan Oatis)