By Shashwat Awasthi and Safia Infant
(Reuters) - London's main index rose for the eleventh straight session on Friday, as trade-sensitive stocks cheered further positive signals from the United States and China over signing a phase-one deal.
The FTSE 100 <.FTSE>, which is on its best run in three years, gained 0.2%, supported by a near 2% rise in Glencore <GLEN.L>. BP <BP.L> was also a major boost to the index and rose 1%, benefiting from higher crude prices.
Returning from their Christmas and Boxing Day break, traders hailed comments from Beijing and Washington that signalled official ratification of an initial trade deal was close.
However, a lack of further details meant that the bourse settled for only a modest gain on the day, while trading volume remained thin at the end of a holiday-shortened week.
The FTSE 250 <.FTMC> added 0.4% to scale a fresh record high and sterling firmed after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union may need to extend the deadline for talks about a new trade relationship with Britain.
Fear of a chaotic Brexit, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a hard deadline of Dec. 2020 for a deal, has sapped some momentum from a rally in domestic stocks which was spurred by his landslide election victory earlier this month.
Still, UK markets, in tandem with global peers, are ushering in an upbeat end to the year, as broader worries around major macro-economic events such as the U.S.-China trade war, British politics and Brexit have receded recently.
This has increased investor appetite for risky assets like stocks, with the blue-chip bourse on course for its best month since April 2018 and its best annual performance since 2016.
The more domestically-focused midcaps are on track for best month since January and their biggest yearly gain since 2013.
"A lot of excellent news is now priced into financial markets across the globe, but top picking remains a dangerous game; only for the brave and deep-pocketed," OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley said.
Food delivery firm Just Eat <JE.L> topped the main board with a 2.4% rise after Britain's competition regulator said it would launch an in-depth probe into Amazon's <AMZN.O> deal with online food delivery group Deliveroo.
NMC Health <NMC.L> fell 2.6%. The healthcare provider's shares more than halved in value last week after short-seller Muddy Waters criticised its financials, but shot up more than 36% on Monday after promising to review its books.
For a graphic on European stocks in 2019:
For a graphic on World stock markets in 2019:
(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Safia Infant in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)