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Energy, bank stocks drive FTSE 100 higher

02/24/2021 | 12:29pm

(Reuters) - Britain's main stock index recouped early losses to end Wednesday higher, as gains in commodity-linked and banking stocks on investor optimism about a post-pandemic economic recovery outweighed losses in defensive sectors.

After falling as much as 0.8%, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index closed up 0.5%, with oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell providing the biggest boost with gains of 5.4% and 3.3%, respectively.

Mining stocks including Rio Tinto plc, Anglo American Plc and BHP added between 0.7% and 1.5%, boosted by higher metal prices.

"One of the main drivers for the FTSE over the next few months is going to be investors' interest in a possible commodity super-cycle," said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.

"If commodities continued to perform as strongly as they have over the past few months, well that's going to benefit disproportionately."

British bank Barclays jumped 3.4%, while other lenders rose as Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said Britain will resist "very firmly" any European Union attempts to arm-twist banks into shifting trillions of euros in derivatives clearing from Britain to the bloc after Brexit.

Defensive plays such consumer staples, healthcare and utilities were among the top laggards.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 gained 1.2% and marked its best day over a week, on hopes that speedy vaccination will help ease coronavirus restrictions faster.

In company news, Metro Bank fell 9.9% as it posted a much bigger annual loss and said it expects defaults to rise through the year as government support measures set in place due to the COVID-19 crisis are wound down.

Consumer goods maker Reckitt Benckiser shed 1.5% even as it capped 2020 with the strongest sales in its history, while Aviva slipped 0.5% as it agreed to sell its 40% stake in a joint venture in Turkey for 122 million pounds ($173.2 million).

(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Anil D'Silva and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S

© Reuters 2021
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