US holidays typically leave markets in Europe subdued when traders take a day off, but this year’s Independence Day holiday failed to dampen spirits as traders on the FTSE 100 appeared buoyed ahead of the UK Government’s “freedom day” announcement confirming the easing of Covid-19 restrictions on July 19.
Although the update was not made until after markets closed at 4.30pm, much of the detail had already been leaked, leaving investors confident that the Government’s road map was on course to allow businesses to operate with greater ease.
As a result, the FTSE 100 closed the day up 41.64 points, or 0.58%, at 7164.91, beating its counterparts in Europe.
The German Dax closed up just 0.09% and the French Cac was up 0.22%.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “Positive noises about ‘freedom day’ on 19 July and an end to many of the restrictions of the past year has lent an air of ‘cyclical rebound’ to today’s trading; names like IAG, Barclays and Antofagasta populate the top end of the leaderboard, on hopes that a return to normality will be the dominant theme from the second half of July as the UK puts the worst behind it.
“Many of these names have struggled to make much headway in share price terms since the early part of the year, looking for a new catalyst to drive them higher.
“Hopefully the different outlook prevailing in a couple of weeks’ time will give renewed confidence that these ‘reopening stocks’ will continue to do well.”
In company news, Morrisons investors had their first opportunity to react to the news that a bidding war is on the verge of breaking out for the supermarket.
Private equity firm Apollo Global Management confirmed on Monday morning it was eyeing a bid for the group, although only Fortress has made a formal offer of £6.3 billion, which has been accepted by the board.
Shares in Morrisons closed up 27.7p, or 11.6%, at 267.5p. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice private equity house was first to announce it was considering a bid a week earlier but the offer was rejected.
Elsewhere, Ramsay Health Care increased its offer for rival Spire Healthcare to 250p-a-share after shareholders in the firm complained an earlier bid of 240p was too low.
Spire’s shares closed down 7p at 240.5p.
Ladbrokes owner Entain said it was “disappointed” after Australia’s Tabcorp opted to split its business in two rather than accept a £2 billion takeover offer.
Entain shareholders did not seem to mind, with shares up 58p at 1,855.5p.
Mining and commodities giant Glencore announced a new chairman, Kalidas Madhavpeddi, who will replace former BP boss Tony Hayward at the helm.
Mr Hayward had been with Glencore for a decade, including eight years as chairman. Shares closed up 5p at 320.15p.
Venture capital firm Forward Partners announced plans to float on the London stock market and raise £25 million from investors. Shares will start trading later this month.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were IAG up 8.86p at 188.98p, Entain up 58p at 1,855.5p, Barclays up 5.34p at 177.7p, Tesco up 6.9p at 231.5p, and Rolls-Royce up 2.4p at 104.98p.
The biggest fallers were Aveva down 59p at 3,835p, AstraZeneca down 101p at 8,678p, Polymetal down 18p at 1,581.5p, Informa down 5.6p at 523.4p, and Just Eat Takeaway down 67p at 6,638p.