London’s FTSE 100 rose slightly on Wednesday, helped by gains in healthcare and financial stocks, while investors assessed risks from rising COVID-19 infections globally and concerns about easing economic growth.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 climbed 0.1%, rising for a fourth straight session, with AstraZeneca, HSBC Holdings, Lloyd’s Group and Standard Chartered among the top boosts.
The banking sector was the top performer with a 0.9% climb as it tracked gains in benchmark bond yields, which rose for a third straight session.
“The FTSE 100 being quite bank stocks-heavy is expected to perform better if not maintain positive levels, with financial stocks set to gain going ahead on chatter of a higher interest rate regime or a slight tapering of central bank purchases,” said David Madden, an analyst at Equiti Capital.
Global equity markets were lacklustre as investors shifted their focus towards the US Federal Reserve’s annual symposium on Friday for any hints regarding the timeline for Fed’s tapering of asset purchases.
The FTSE 100 has risen nearly 28% from its October 2020 lows as the economy starts to recover from pandemic-related lockdowns.
But fears that the recovery could stall as central banks begin to discuss tapering of their asset purchases have weighed on the pace of growth.
The domestically focussed mid-cap index gained 0.4% to a record 23,966.29 with travel stocks leading the rise.
Waste management firm Augean surged 16.7% after it said it agreed to a buyout offer of 341 million pounds ($468 million) from a group affiliated to London-based investment manager Ancala Partners LLP.
British subprime lender Amigo dropped 2.1% after it said its losses increased substantially in the last financial year.
In signs of steady interest for UK corporates, activist investor Cevian Capital pushed its stake above 5% in insurer Aviva, according to a stock exchange filing.