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London markets end turbulent week higher amid positive UK retail data

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PA City Staff
·3-min read
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The London markets jumped higher as sentiment improved at the end of a turbulent week for traders.

UK investors were calmed by February’s retail sales figures which unveiled a partial recovery, with sales volumes jumping 2.1% against the previous month although were still 3.7% below the same period last year.

The FTSE 100 closed 65.76 points, or 0.99%, higher at 6,740.59 on Friday.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European markets have finished a rather choppy week very much on the front foot, despite concerns about extended lockdowns in Europe, tighter restrictions between France and Germany, and the added wrinkle of the blockage in the Suez Canal.

“Investors appear to be adopting a glass-half-full mentality when it comes to sentiment as we look ahead to the end of the month, and the quarter next week.

“Today’s UK retail sales numbers for February bode well for a big rebound in consumer demand as we head into Q2, while a better-than-expected German IFO number also points to rising optimism about a global economic recovery even as Europe remains stuck in the mud spinning its reopening wheels.”

The Dax, therefore, made decent gains while French traders were also broadly positive despite the recent reintroduction of restrictions.

The German Dax increased by 0.87% and the French Cac moved 0.61% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones opened higher, taking its cue from the positive follow-throughs from the Asia and European sessions as it also saw February’s personal spending data arrive in line with forecasts.

Meanwhile, sterling pushed towards a one-year high against the euro as sentiment regarding the Eurozone has continued to be stifled by its vaccine woes.

The pound increased by 0.39% versus the US dollar to 1.378 and was up 0.12% against the euro at 1.168.

In company news, Smiths Group climbed after the FTSE 100 engineering giant said it outperformed market expectations.

Nevertheless, it said pre-tax profits fell by 4% as a tightening of the energy market during the pandemic weighed on trading.

Shares were 101p higher at 1,560p at the close of play.

Aviva finished a touch higher after it ended its huge sell-off of non-core parts of the business by selling its Polish division for 2.7 billion euros (£2.3 billion).

Shares in the insurer were up 1.2p at 401.2p after it agreed the sale to rival Allianz.

Braveheart Investment Group shares soared after the firm said a Covid-19 test developed by its investee firm Paraytec Limited had seen “significantly better performance” in its detection. Shares rose by 38p to 116p.

The price of oil rebounded higher as it continued its volatile streak since the Ever Given container ship first blocked the Suez Canal.

The price of Brent crude oil increased by 4.12% to 64.5 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smiths Group, up 101p at 1,560p, Glencore, up 17.55p at 286.4p, Antofagasta, up 71.5p at 1,692.5p, and Anglo American, up 117.5p at 2,843.5p.

The biggest fallers on the index were Standard Life Aberdeen, down 4.4p at 288p, National Grid, down 13p at 860p, Barratt Development, down 9p at 770.6p, and Polymetal International, down 14.5p at 1,411p.