Thursday 8 April 2021 9:05 pm

Markets: Indexes in London and New York push further into record territory

London’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.8 per cent today to reach its highest level since February last year, boosted by gains in mining and banking stocks. While in new York the S&P 500 also hit a record.

The blue-chip index was fired up by stocks including Anglo American, whose 1.5 per cent rise came after the company said it would spin off its thermal coal assets in South Africa.

The FTSE 100 has logged strong gains so far this year on the back of speedy vaccine rollouts and renewed economic optimism.

British firms sharply stepped up hiring and offered higher pay to new staff last month as confidence grew in the country’s Covid recovery.

Meanwhile, the mid-cap FTSE 250 pushed further into new record territory, up another 0.2 per cent on yesterday’s high point.

Read more: Asos bags record profit as pandemic continues to drive sales

Market movers

The FTSE 100’s biggest gainers were Johnson Matthey and Just Eat Takeaway, up 5.6 and 4.5 per cent respectively by the end of the day.

The losers of the day so far were Aviva and Prudential, each down early three per cent.

Stocks in Europe also reached record highs, buoyed by optimism in Britain over easing lockdown restrictions and supportive outlooks from the Fed and the European Central Bank.

The European Stoxx index of 600 leading companies rose 0.44 per cent, just off the high of 436.66 points it reached earlier in the session.

“It’s looking good as evaluations in Europe are much lower than they are in the U.S., so there is potentially more upside. The line of least resistance for European markets is higher,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“In terms of economic re-opening, there is enough optimism built in at the moment to drive markets quite a bit higher from here, and the Fed has reiterated it’s going to remain on hold for a while,” Hewson said.

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Wall Street pushes higher

The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday, as U.S. Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, boosting technology and other growth stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 57.77 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 33,504.03, the S&P 500 gained 17.27 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 4,097.22 and the Nasdaq Composite added 141.30 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 13,830.14.

The recent pullback in yields has helped high growth names such as those in technology, the sector that posted the session’s biggest rise. Megacap stocks such as Apple , Microsoft and Amazon were the biggest boosts to the S&P 500.

High-growth tech stocks have recovered in recent sessions as U.S. 10-year bond yield backed off from its 14-month highs, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq within two per cent of its record closing high.

Latest data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the increase likely understates the rapidly improving labor market conditions.

“While states balance the vaccine rollout with stop and start reopening plans, the labor market continues to feel the heat,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.

“But the disappointing read actually puts some firepower behind the Fed’s accommodative stance.”

The Fed acknowledged the economy was on its path to a strong rebound backed by massive fiscal spending and accelerating vaccinations, minutes released on Wednesday showed. However, the central bank noted it would be “some time” before conditions improve enough for the Fed to rein in its support.

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