MARKET REPORT: FTSE 250 hits new record high


The FTSE 250 hit a new record high as markets around the world continued to rally. 

In the first session following the bank holiday, the mid-cap index rose 0.8 per cent or 191.04 points to 22,874.99, a huge gain since the lows of March last year when it fell below 14,000. 

The FTSE 100 was also on the front foot, rising 0.8 per cent, or 57.85 points, to 7080.46, though it remains around 10 per cent below its all-time high of mid-2018. 

Mid-cap stocks in the FTSE 250, in particular, have been boosted by the economic recovery as Britain has bounced back from the pandemic. 

The index is stuffed full of companies whose fortunes are closely linked to those of the economy, from high street retailers to housebuilders. The Brexit trade deal has also lifted some of the uncertainty that was hanging over London-listed stocks. 

Tullow Oil was the biggest riser on the FTSE 250, up 9.1 per cent, or 4.66p, to 55.96p, as the global economic recovery drove the price of crude back above $70 a barrel. Among the oil majors, BP gained 2.8 per cent, or 8.6p, to 314.75p while Shell was up 1.8 per cent, or 23.2p, to 1306.8p. But mining stocks dominated the top of the blue-chip leaderboard as growing demand for metals pushed prices higher. 

Anglo American was up 4 per cent, or 126.4p, to 3261.5p, Rio Tinto gained 4 per cent, or 241p, to 6305p, BHP was 3.6 per cent, or 76p, higher at 2199p, Glencore was up 3 per cent, or 9.55p, to 331p, and Antofagasta rose 4 per cent, or 62p, to 1606.5p.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘The sun is shining on the FTSE 100 with the index receiving an early summer boost. As the global growth recovery story unfolds, miners in particular are on the front foot.’ 

WPP was also on the march, gaining 3.8 per cent, or 36.5p, to 1010.5p, the advertising giant’s highest level since early last year, as its recovery continues. 

But takeover target Vectura Group fell 0.3 per cent, or 0.4p, to 139.6p after it went ‘ex-dividend’. 

The pharmaceuticals company, which is developing a pioneering inhaled treatment for Covid-19, is among a host of FTSE 250 firms that have been targeted by private equity. It last week agreed to a £958m takeover bid from Carlyle. Under the terms of the offer, shareholders would receive a total of 155p a share, consisting 136p cash plus a 19p dividend. 

That dividend has now been paid, sending the shares down to around the cash offer price. 

Analysts were keeping a close eye on Marks & Spencer following last week’s results. 

Although it posted an annual loss of more than £200m, recovery seems to be in the air, and the stock is up more than 80 per cent since November. Analysts raised their target prices on the stock. But the shares plummeted by 3.4pc, or 5.6p, to 159.8p. 

Travel food group SSP, which owns Upper Crust, rose 3 per cent, or 8.9p, to 303p after Peel Hunt upgraded the stock on potential growth from the European air market reopening. 

Centrica is selling its site in Peterborough, which produces electricity by burning gas, for £20m to private equity firm Rockland Capital as part of its plan to simplify its business. The energy company has around 10m customers in the UK, Ireland and Europe. It rose 0.6 per cent, or 0.3p, to 54.96p. 

A consortium has completed its £7.2billion takeover of UK insurance giant RSA. Danish Tryg takes over its Swedish and Norwegian arms, with fellow buyer Intact, from Canada, taking over its UK, Canadian and international businesses. RSA, which owns brands such as More Than, agreed the deal last year. 

The move has now been approved in court, with RSA removed from the London Stock Exchange yesterday, with shares at 684.2p.

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