Wednesday 6 January 2021 4:45 pm

FTSE 100 roars to highest closing level since early March

The FTSE 100 charged higher today as the blue-chip bourse closed at its highest levels since before the Covid-19 pandemic beared down on the UK in early March.

After a sluggish start, the index surged 3.7 per cent to close at 6,855 points, in a third session of gains.

The buoyant mood extended to the FTSE 250 of mid-cap firms, which also rose 1.0 per cent by the close of play to 20,930 points.

Across the pond, Wall Street reversed early jitters over dire set of employment figures and fears of a Democrat-controlled Senate increasing regulation on business.

Instead, market investors perhaps focussed instead on the increased likelihood of economic stimulus now that Democrats have tighter control on the levers of power in Washington.

This evening the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.7 per cent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 0.3 per cent and the S&P500 gained 1.3 per cent

The UK’s markets have started the new year at a rapid pace, with the FTSE on track for a rise of over 5 per cent across its first three sessions.

As a result the FTSE 100, which lost 15 per cent last year, is swiftly catching up with its rivals around the world.

The increases came despite a new report from the British Chambers of Commerce showing that the UK was on course for a double-dip recession.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, commented “The FTSE is again building on its positive momentum for the new year, unlike some of its global peers.

“Despite sterling continuing with its recent strength – a limiting factor on the FTSE 100 with its constituents’ large exposure to overseas earnings – and the announcement of a new national lockdown, the UK’s premier index has had a decent start to the year.

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“The index has been one to avoid for international investors over recent times, and there are some initial signs that the tide could be turning as investors re-examine areas which have potentially been oversold amid strong performances for other global indices.”

Again, the bourse outperformed its European rivals, with the German DAX and French CAC up 1.8 and 1.4 per cent each.

The UK’s banking giants led the way, with Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell saying that events in Georgia has “supercharged” the stocks.

HSBC was the pack-leader, climbing 9.9 per cent, with Stan Chart up 9.5 per cent, Barclays up 8.7 per cent.

Oil giants were also among the biggest winners with BP and Shell both up 5.7 per cent.

The firms are benefiting from a decision last night by Saudi Arabia to voluntarily cut more oil production, boosting oil prices to their highest levels in ten months.

Mining firms were also swept along by traders’ optimism, with Glencore, Rio Tinto, and Anglo American leading the way.