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London stocks rise again as optimism grips City

Simon English
·2-min read
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

THE LONDON stock market enjoyed its third successive day of gains as vaccine roll-outs, better than expected economic numbers and good job stats boosted investors.

The FTSE 100 sailed past 6900 and could breach the psychologically important 7000 milestone within days, say analysts, as a mood of optimism grips a still mostly deserted City.

Today the premier index was up 20 points at 6905, up from 5580 last October.

That 1300 point rise is roughly equal to £325 billion added in value to top shares, held by investors foreign and domestic, including most pension funds.

A report from KPMG said there has been a “substantial increase in hiring activity” in March, as “improved market confidence” led to increases in vacancies and starting salaries for new jobs.

Amid previous chatter that interest rates could soon rise – prompting a shift out of shares and into bonds – the US authorities talked down that likelihood.

AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said: “The latest indication from the US Federal Reserve that it has no intention of lifting interest rates anytime soon helped set the FTSE 100 on course for a third straight day of gains on Thursday.”

The IMF has joined other voices in predicting a stronger bounce back for the UK and US economies than experts had previously expected.

Today, the latest statistics showed a huge surge in construction activity. The latest PMI figures – a measure of activity – jumped from 53.3 in February to 61.7 in March. That’s a six year high.

Gareth Belsham of property consultancy Naismiths said: “The bounceback is turning into a boom. The omens in February were good, as new orders began to pour in. But March was the month when construction really put the pedal to the floor – and output is now surging across all sectors of the industry.”

He added: “In response to surging demand, building firms are tooling up – hiring people and buying materials – and the pace of job creation is now stronger than it has been for over two years.”

The FTSE 250, home to more UK focused stocks than the larger FTSE 100, hit a record high yesterday. Today it was steady at 22,160.

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