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FTSE jumps to highest since January amid slump in sterling

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Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·3-min read
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The FTSE 100 soared to its highest level in almost three months after London’s multinationals were buoyed by weakness in the value of the pound.

The currency took a tumble after Sage experts claimed that the UK’s vaccine rollout could dramatically slow down, weighing on the country’s economic recovery.

Traders across Europe had pent up energy after the Easter weekend, with all the major markets pushing into the green.

London’s top flight closed 86.25 points, or 1.28%, higher at 6,823.55 on Tuesday.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “The pound took a serious knock on Tuesday, falling almost half a percent against the dollar and more against the euro.

“This appears to be linked to both reports that the UK’s medicines watchdog is considering suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under-30s, and Sage’s claim that the country’s vaccination programme could dramatically slow down until the end of July.

“Paying little attention to the potential nuances of sterling’s slide, the FTSE used it as a platform for its own substantial growth.”

The pound decreased by 0.41% versus the US dollar to 1.384 and was down 0.75% against the euro at 1.167.

In Europe, the other major indices were behind the FTSE’s pace although the Dax struck a fresh all-time high.

The German Dax increased by 0.7% and the French Cac moved 0.47% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones dipped on the opening bell as traders took stock following a record performance on Monday.

Back in London, a raft of hospitality and retail stocks – including Cineworld, JD Wetherspoon and Hammerson – lifted higher after the Prime Minister gave the go-ahead for the latest phase of the Government’s road map out of lockdown.

In company news, BP shares jumped higher after the oil giant said it expects to pay down part of its debt months earlier than originally planned.

The London-listed firm said it was ahead of schedule after it was boosted by rising oil prices and earned billions from selling off parts of the business.

Shares in the business moved 10.05p higher to 299.85p at the close of play as a result.

Homeserve slipped in value despite telling investors on Tuesday that it expects to see profit rise by around £10 million when it publishes full-year results next month.

The home repair and improvements business said that profit before tax will likely hit around £191 million on an adjusted basis in the 12 months to the end of March, in line with expectations.

It saw shares fall by 44p to 1,168 at the end of trading.

European airliner Wizz Air moved 114p higher to 5,090p despite revealing that it carried 73% fewer passengers in March compared with the same month a year earlier.

The price of oil lifted higher as energy prices held up well despite Thursday’s OPEC decision to raise production in May to July.

The price of Brent crude oil increased by 1.79% to 63.26 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were SSE, up 64p at 1,521p, Antofagasta, up 63.5p at 1,756p, BP, up 10.05p at 299.85p, and Hargreaves Lansdown, up 54.5p at 1,635.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BT Group, down 3.8p at 152.65p, Next, down 194p at 7,920p, Bunzl, down 35p at 2,325p, and Just Eat Takeaway, down 73p at 6,820p.