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Mining, energy stocks boost FTSE 100, stronger pound limits gains

LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – London’s FTSE 100 edged higher on Monday, led by heavyweight miners, although gains were limited by a stronger pound and as investors awaited new government plans for easing lockdowns.

The blue-chip index (.FTSE) rose 0.2%, with miners mainly Glencore (GLEN.L), BHP Group (BHPB.L) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L) providing the biggest boost as copper prices touched record highs on hopes of improved demand amid tightening supply.

Oil majors BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) added 1% and 0.4% respectively, tracking crude prices.

However, the FTSE 100 index’s gains were limited as large dollar-earning consumer staples companies including Unilever (ULVR.L), British American Tobacco (BATS.L) and Diageo (DGE.L)slipped due to a stronger pound. GBP=

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out on Monday the next phase of lockdown easing in England, giving the green light to “cautious hugging” and allowing pubs to serve customers pints inside after months of strict measures.

“There’s definitely been a COVID-19 battle premium built into UK equities and the sterling for a while now because their vaccination programme has gone so well and rapidly and as they move forward it’s going to increase,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Potentially the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is approaching an endgame for the UK. The key to (economic normality) will be the reopening of international borders but that one’s a little more challenging as vaccination programmes in other parts of Europe and the world have not gone so well.”

Britain has allowed international travel to resume from May 17, but just 12 countries and territories made the so-called “green list”.

Ryanair Holdings , British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L), Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) and easyJet (EZJ.L)fell between 1.1% and 2.5%.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index (.FTMC) was flat. Bakery and fast food chain Greggs (GRG.L) surged 9% to the top of the index after raising its profit outlook. 

However, Provident Financial (PFG.L) slipped 6.5% after the sub-prime lender said it expected costs of up to 100 mln pounds ($140.61 mln) related to the closure of its troubled doorstep-lending division.

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