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FTSE 250 hits five-year high as markets roar back to life - under spectre of looming inflation

·2-min read
<p>Oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth</p> (PA Archive)

Oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth

(PA Archive)

ARE City traders worried that inflation is going to dent the stock market? Yes, but not enough to act on it yet, seemed to be the message today.

The oil price rose back to pre-pandemic levels and so did the FTSE 250, as the City bet the economic upswing will outweigh the higher cost of goods that could lead to interest rate rises.

The 250, an index with a greater UK focus than big brother the FTSE 100, was up 76 points at 22,909, a five-year high.

It is now above where it was last February when the pandemic was first emerging and far above the 52-week low of 16,691.

The biggest risers were builders such as Crest Nicholson — up 11p at 454p — Taylor Wimpey, up 4.3p at 175.6p, Barratt up 18p at 773.7p and Persimmon, 72p stronger at 3223.5p.

They gained after yet more strong news on house prices from the Halifax.

Investment houses such as AJ Bell—up 9p at 445p — and St James’s Place, up 19.5p at 1448p also fared well.

Cyber defence and security consulting service NCCG was up 8p to 297p in response to an upgrade from Peel Hunt, which raised its target price to 363p.

Oil also reached a three-month high, with Brent Crude hitting $71.50, a sign perhaps that the City expects petrol to remain in use even if it is out of fashion.

The FTSE 100 was the only major European market on the up. Traders are mostly eyeing two things this week — the latest US inflation figures and UK GDP data out on Friday.

Neil Wilson at markets.com said: “Inflation remains squarely in focus and the largest potential source of investors angst and market volatility this week.

“April’s CPI print jumped to 4.2%, the highest since 2008. Given this, the monthly core reading will be the main focus as it will offer a guide on just how transitory or otherwise the pop in inflation is likely to be.”

After dropping in early trading, the FTSE 100 whipsawed back into positive territory rising 26 points to 7095 - nearing its post-pandemic high and up 10% so far this year.

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