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FTSE rises again amid Omicron optimism while Wall Street falters

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London’s stock markets climbed higher on Wednesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
London’s stock markets climbed higher on Wednesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

The FTSE gained further ground as strong showings from banks, mining stocks and Ocado buoyed London’s top index.

It held firm in the green despite dropping down from intraday highs after a less positive start to trading in the US, driven by weakness in the tech sector.

The FTSE 100 ended the day 11.72 points, or 0.16%, higher at 7,516.87 points.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “Stocks were more mixed today, though in London the FTSE 100 managed to eke out a rise of almost fifteen points.

“For once having a small tech sector is proving to be a good thing for the FTSE 100, meaning it has been able to escape the further losses that have plagued growth stocks of late due to the rise in bond yields, though following its drubbing yesterday Ocado has managed a decent bounce.”

Ocado topped London’s top flight after latest figures from Kantar showed it was the only major UK grocery retailer to post a rise in sales over the 12 weeks to December 26 compared with the same period last year.

It highlighted a 2.5% sales increase and provided a much-needed boost to shares after slipping earlier in the week.

The online retail business climbed by 49.5p to 1,605.5p at the end of trading.

Elsewhere in Europe, the other major indexes outperformed London as their new year buzz kept a strong pace.

The German Dax increased by 0.74% and the French Cac rose by 0.81%.

Across the Atlantic, sentiment on Wall Street was more downbeat and poor performances across tech stocks placed both the S&P and Nasdaq in the red.

Oliver Males, financials analyst at Spreadex, said: “All this is despite some upbeat economic data releases today, as ADP said that 807,000 new jobs had been added back in the private sector, nearly doubling the expectations.”

Meanwhile, sterling lifted higher as dollar traders in the US were on the backfoot ahead of the latest publication of minutes from the Federal Reserve.

The pound moved 0.04% higher versus the US dollar at 1.357, and increased 0.09% against the euro at 1.197.

In company news, shares in advertising agency M&C Saatchi bounced higher after a London-listed acquisition firm bought a 9.8% stake in the company.

AdvancedAdvT Ltd said it bought 12 million shares in the business in a £24 million deal.

Investors in the troubled agency cheered the move and shares leapt by 21.5p to 189p at the close as a result.

Elsewhere, Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotel Group moved 34p higher to 5,062p after brokers at UBS upgraded the stock.

The price of oil continued to be boosted by broad hopes that Omicron will not hold up the global economy further.

Brent crude increased by 1.17% to 81.17 dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ocado, up 49.5p to 1,605.5p, Anglo American, up 85.5p to 3,182p, Kingfisher, up 8.4p to 356p, BHP, up 46p to 2,267p, and Rio Tinto, up 96.5p to 336.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, down 42p to 1,249.5p, United Utilities, down 34p to 1,249p, Rentokil, down 11p to 558.4p, Experian, down 64p to 3,572p, and Prudential, down 21p to 1,294.5p.