© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
By Shashank Nayar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar
(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 rose to a near 20-month high on Friday, recovering all losses since the pandemic began, helped by gains in heavyweight oil and banking shares as investors were optimistic about a steady economic recovery.
The biggest drag on the main index was Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) Group, which fell 1.5%, after the miner reduced its 2021 iron ore shipments forecast.
The FTSE 100 index advanced 0.3% by 0812 GMT. The commodity-heavy index was up 1.8% for the week and set to record its best week since May this year, with precious and industrial miners being the biggest gainers.
“UK has been quite positive over the last few weeks so supply chain shortages haven’t really been holding back the markets,” said Thomas Mathews, markets economist at Capital Economics.
The FTSE 100 has risen nearly 12% this year to its highest since February 2020, supported by upbeat earnings, accommodative central bank policies and gains in oil and metal prices, which boosted commodity-related stocks.
However, inflation worries and supply-chain disruptions led the blue-chip index to underperform the wider European stocks, which recovered to pre-pandemic levels at the beginning of this year.
“There is risk that if the labour or product shortages stick around for a bit longer, it could become a more of a permanent drag on earnings and you might see stocks struggle as well,” added Mathews.
Banks gained 1.2% and gave the second biggest boost to the index, with HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) plc adding 1.5% after Barclays (LON:BARC) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) raised their price targets on the stock.
The domestically focussed mid-cap index added 0.3%, lifted by travel and leisure stocks.
Mediclinic was the top performer on the mid-cap index after it reported strong first-half revenue growth, which was ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
Global education group Pearson dropped 9.2% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after saying that COVID-19 and a tight labour market had hit enrolments at U.S. community colleges.
FTSE 100 bounces to pre-pandemic levels on gains in energy, bank stocks
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