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FTSE 100 gains on upbeat Coca-Cola HBC outlook; Relx shines

Shashank Nayar and Shivani Kumaresan
·2-min read
Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London

By Shashank Nayar and Shivani Kumaresan

(Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 rose on Thursday as upbeat earnings outlooks and dividend hikes from soft drink bottler Coca-Cola HBC and information group Relx boosted investors' hopes for a speedy economic recovery.

Coca-Cola HBC jumped 4.6% to the top of the blue-chip index after raising its dividend and saying it expects 2021 revenue to bounce back strongly as at-home demand cushions a hit to consumption in hotels and restaurants.

European information business provider Relx was also among the biggest gainers on the index, up 2.9% after it said it planned to raise its dividend by 3%.

The FTSE rose 0.1% with industrial stocks such as Intertek Group Plc and Ashtead Group plc leading gains.

The mid-cap index also inched up 0.1%.

"Constant liquidity infusion by central banks is continuing to help support equities, in addition to the hope and optimism among investors that the vaccine roll-outs will help the economy get back on track," said Keith Temperton, sales trader at Forte Securities.

Weighing on sentiment was a sharp drop in oil heavyweights with BP and Royal Dutch Shell falling 0.5% and 2.2% respectively as oil prices slumped on renewed demand concerns [O/R]

A raft of global stimulus has helped the FTSE 100 rebound nearly 30% from a coronavirus-induced crash in March 2020, but the index is still about 15% below its highest level last year, underperforming its European and U.S. peers.

More than 40 percent of Britons are struggling financially or suffering poor health, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said.

“This is unsurprising given the health, lifestyle and financial impact the pandemic has had on people’s lives, but nonetheless remains seriously worrying," said Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell.

Retailer Ted Baker plunged 9.0% after reporting a 47% fall in fourth-quarter revenue, as stores in Britain were shut during the latest lockdown and due to weak demand during the Christmas season.

Royal Mail rose 4.9% after its quarterly revenue jumped 20%, while the company also forecast an annual profit of more than 500 million pounds ($692.20 million).

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Shounak Dasgupta and Kirsten Donovan)