London stocks jump as retailers set to reopen from shutdown

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group building in the City of London financial district, Britain, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

(Reuters) – London-listed shares rose more than 1% on Monday as retailers prepared to reopen stores following a months-long coronavirus-led lockdown, with Primark’s owner pushing ahead to restart all its England shops on June 15.

Associated British Foods (ABF.L), owner of the fashion retailer, jumped 6.4% to the top of the FTSE 100 and the wider retailer index .FTNMX5370 added 0.8%.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 1.6%, after ending May on a downbeat note on fears of a strong U.S. response to China’s move to impose a national security law in Hong Kong. But global equity markets rallied on Monday as U.S. President Donald Trump made no mention of pulling out of the Phase 1 trade deal while saying his administration would begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index .FTMC was up 1.5%, building on a strong two-month rally that has been powered by hopes the UK economy would rebound from a looming coronavirus-fuelled global recession.

“Re-opening optimism reigns supreme as markets have temporarily shelved the U.S.-China trade war escalation playbooks in favour of the bullish-for-market re-opening scripts,” said Stephen Innes, markets strategist at Axicorp.

The FTSE 100 has recovered about 26% since crashing to an eight-year low in March, with battered travel .FTNMX5750 and mining .FTNMX1770 stocks posting some of the sharpest gains.

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) rose 1.4% and was among the biggest boosts to the FTSE 100 after its and U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc’s (MRK.N) cancer drug received a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency as a maintenance treatment for a form of pancreatic cancer.

But Ted Baker (TED.L) slumped 10.2%. The fashion brand said it would raise 95 million pounds ($117.84 million) through a stock issue to help it ride out the coronavirus crisis, after reporting a loss of 79.9 million pounds for the year to January.

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Arun Koyyur

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