March 4, 2019 / 9:07 AM / a year ago

Banks lift FTSE 100 as trade optimism reigns; Ted Baker rallies

(Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 rose on Monday as financial firms gained on reports China and the United States were nearing a trade deal, a stronger dollar helped exporter stocks, while clothing retailer Ted Baker advanced after CEO Ray Kelvin’s resignation.

FILE PHOTO: Dealers work on the trading floor at IG Index in London, Britain August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The FTSE 100 ended 0.4 percent higher and the FTSE 250 closed 0.1 percent higher and clung to its four-month high hit in the last session.

Financial stocks gained after the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could reach a formal trade deal at a summit around March 27, raising hopes of an end to the protracted dispute.

“With all this positivity comes the risk that the market is buying on this rumour mill and is becoming more exposed should the good news not materialise. March could well come in like a lion and go out like a lamb,” said analyst Neil Wilson.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell suggested investors were wary of the latest update on trade talks, adding they were “perhaps sick of speculation and rather more keen to see some actual action.”

Data showed activity in Britain’s construction industry fell for the first time in almost a year last month amid Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in the housing market.

This softened sterling and helped dollar earners such as AstraZeneca and spirits company Diageo to be among the top boosts to the main bourse.

Property website operator Rightmove also jumped 5.1 percent on its best day in more than two-and-a-half years after bullish comments from JP Morgan.

British Airways owner IAG dropped 4.8 percent on its worst day in more than a year after it forecast 2019 free cash flow to be lower than last year.

Ted Baker, which slumped 5 percent in early deals, recovered to add 4.8 percent as Ray Kelvin, the retailer’s founder and top boss, quit following allegations of misconduct relating to his habit of hugging business colleagues.

“Ted Baker has grown steadily and has become a global brand and we do not see any change to the Group’s long-term prospects,” Liberum analysts wrote.

Daily Mail and General Trust rose 4.5 percent, its biggest intraday gain since late June, after plans to return all its shares in Euromoney Institutional Investor and 200 million pounds in cash to eligible shareholders.

Euromoney shares shed 4.6 percent.

Speciality chemical company Synthomer slipped 8.1 percent on the mid-caps after its full-year report, but losses were largely offset as drugmaker Indivior surged 7.5 percent in a no-news move.

Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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