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London stocks end at multi-month highs on vaccine optimism, commodity gains

11/24/2020 | 12:15pm

(Reuters) - Heavyweight commodity stocks pushed London's blue-chip index to a more than five-month closing high on Tuesday, while the midcap index ended at a near nine-month peak as optimism over a coronavirus vaccine increased hopes for a swift economic recovery.

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index ended 1.6% higher, with energy and mining heavyweights BP and Rio Tinto supporting the index on the back of strong oil and base metal prices.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index added 1.1%, ending at its highest level since early-March with industrial stocks serving as the biggest boost.

Both indexes surged in late trade, tracking gains on Wall Street after the formal go-ahead for President-elect Joe Biden's transition to the White House ended weeks of political uncertainty in Washington.

Travel stocks rallied after England said it would introduce a new COVID-19 "test-and-release" scheme on Dec. 15 to reduce quarantine periods for incoming passengers from high-risk countries.

"Investors are still thinking long-term post-vaccine at the moment and are looking into various sectors that have been haemorrhaged in the last eight months," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

A sharp rally in cyclicals such as energy and bank stocks on vaccine-related cheer and hopes of a speedy economic recovery have helped the FTSE 100 index gain more than 14% this month, setting it on track for its best month on record.

Among individual movers, Catering firm Compass Group Plc rose 2.5% even as it reported a 75.5% slump in annual pretax profit.

Online electricals retailer AO World sank nearly 10% after it said it doubled its warehouse capacity to cope with any possible supply disruptions caused by Brexit.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Alex Richardson)

By Devik Jain and Ambar Warrick

© Reuters 2021
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