London close: Stocks gain as lockdowns are eased globally
London stocks finished on Wednesday, with optimism regarding the lifting of lockdowns on many overseas economies helping to offset a dip in optimism over potential coronavirus vaccines.
Rolls-Royce and Marks & Spencer added their weight to the positive tone in markets on the back of the latest moves from the two companies to stem losses in the wake of the pandemic.
The FTSE 100 was up 1.08% at 6,087.16, alongside a 0.29% rise on the second-tier index to 16,367.48.
Meanwhile, data released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed UK inflation fell to a near four-year low of 0.8% as energy costs declined and clothing retailers cut prices to shift stock during the coronavirus crisis.
The annual rate of consumer price inflation almost halved from 1.5% between March and April. The reduced rate was the lowest since August 2016 and was slightly below economists' average forecast of 0.9%.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "It’s widely accepted that the pandemic is a profoundly deflationary shock to the global economy. No surprise then that UK consumer price inflation slowed to 0.8% in April from 1.5% in March. In fact, the bulk of the decline was due to lower oil prices. Schemes to keep the economy on life support continue to support purchasing power - it may take some months for inflation to bottom as the economy goes through a painful readjustment.
"Input prices for manufacturers declined 5.1%, whilst factory gate prices were 0.7% lower. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but inflation could be round the corner as central banks and governments deal with vast debts."
Meanwhile, hopes of a potential Covid vaccine from US biotechnology company Moderna faded after a Stat report suggested early data was insufficient.
In equity markets, Experian rallied after it left its dividend unchanged as the information services company said the Covid-19 crisis and currency swings could reduce first-quarter revenue by up to 15%.
Rolls-Royce turned higher, having fallen earlier after saying would cut at least 9,000 jobs as part of a plan to save more than £1.3bn a year in response to the pandemic. The engine maker said the job cuts from its global workforce of 52,000 would mainly affect the civil aerospace business and that it would review the division's facilities.
Food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer was also in the black after saying full-year profits fell by a fifth as it took a £218m hit from the Covid-19 impact and said no dividend would be paid in 2020/21. The company reported pre-tax profits of £67.2m, down 20% including adjusting items of £335.9m, with £212.8m for costs and stock write downs for Covid-19. It
Gambling software company Playtech gained as it said has performed better in the first quarter than it was expecting at the time of its trading update in March, driven by a strong performance from its financials division, TradeTech.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Experian (EXPN) 2,708.00p 7.38%
DCC (DCC) 6,488.00p 6.01%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,350.00p 3.98%
Rightmove (RMV) 523.20p 3.97%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 912.00p 3.20%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,661.50p 2.97%
Relx plc (REL) 1,893.50p 2.85%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 4,938.00p 2.70%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,344.20p 2.67%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,141.50p 2.47%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 138.30p -4.82%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 3,895.00p -4.78%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 537.00p -4.48%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 484.00p -3.85%
Carnival (CCL) 964.00p -3.74%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,120.00p -3.46%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,843.00p -3.43%
ITV (ITV) 74.46p -2.67%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,391.00p -2.47%
M&G (MNG) 118.50p -2.43%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hyve Group (HYVE) 16.56p 13.89%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 95.04p 10.77%
Ninety One (N91) 205.80p 9.75%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 217.00p 9.10%
Coats Group (COA) 47.00p 7.43%
Trainline (TRN) 468.80p 6.93%
Playtech (PTEC) 244.90p 6.02%
Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 81.52p 5.54%
Homeserve (HSV) 1,251.00p 5.48%
Avast (AVST) 500.50p 4.53%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,030.00p -8.04%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 63.80p -7.94%
Unite Group (UTG) 727.50p -6.85%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 517.00p -6.51%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 424.10p -6.09%
GCP Student Living (DIGS) 113.40p -5.97%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,162.00p -5.37%
Countryside Properties (CSP) 288.40p -5.26%
Bellway (BWY) 2,422.00p -4.95%
Rank Group (RNK) 130.00p -4.41%