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FTSE 100 in touching distance of pre-pandemic score

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The FTSE 100 pushed close to its pre-pandemic crash levels as an extreme rise for Auto Trader helped offset an unusually large fall for Johnson Matthey.

The index outperformed most of its major international rivals on Thursday, continuing a month-long winning streak for London’s top companies.

On a day which also saw the Dax in Germany reach a new record, the FTSE pushed to 7,384 points.

It was a 44-point rise, or 0.6%.

At one point in the day the index hit a high of 7,394.

It puts it within a whisker of the index’s levels before the crash that preceded the global coronavirus pandemic.

On February 21, 2020, the FTSE 100 closed at 7,404 points.

Less than three weeks later it had dropped to 5,237.

“We’ve … seen a cracking update from AutoTrader Group, whose shares have surged to the top of the FTSE 100 after reporting record revenue of £215.4 million for its first half numbers,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The 82% rise, which pushed profits to a new £152 million record helped the company’s shares gain 14.1%.

Such a big rise is unusual in the normally more muted FTSE 100, where share prices tend to stay more stable than in the lower leagues of the stock exchange.

“With used car prices rising sharply and in a lot of cases appreciating in value, customers are choosing to bypass dealers and cash in online by selling and buying directly,” Mr Hewson said.

While Auto Trader soared, it was the performances of London’s mining giants that truly lifted the index.

Copper and precious metals prices stayed strong, pushing up BHP, Antofagasta, Polymetal, Glenore and others.

If Auto Trader’s rise was unusual in its size, the same could be said for Johnson Matthey, although its shares went in the opposite direction.

The loss of its chief executive of eight years, a profit warning and a newly announced plan to exit its battery materials business just as battery power is being touted as a major tool against global warming, did not impress investors. Shares dropped 19.1%

“It’s not been a great day for Johnson Matthey shares after the company issued a profits warning, while also announcing it was looking to exit its battery materials business, due to the difficulty in generating decent returns,” Mr Hewson said.

“Its first half results are expected to come in at the lower end of market expectations, due to supply chain disruptions.”

In New York the S&P 500 was trading up 0.2% when markets closed in Europe.

Its neighbour, the Dow Jones, dropped 0.2%.

In Europe the Frankfurt Dax rose 0.1%, while the Cac 40 in Paris gained 0.2%.

The pound dropped 0.1% against the dollar, hitting 1.3384, but was flat against the euro, buying 1.1675.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Auto Trader, up 87.8p to 708p, Anglo American, up 160.5p to 2,897p, 3I Group, up 63.5p to 1,429p, Spirax-Sarco, up 720p to 16,995p, and Antofagasta, up 61.5p to 1,482.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Johnson Matthey, down 527p to 2,236p, United Utilities, down 36p to 607.8p, Burberry, down 106p to 1,861.5p, AB Foods, down 56p to 2,002p, and Flutter Entertainment, down 340p to 12,170p.

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