March 19, 2019 / 9:06 AM / 2 months ago

FTSE 100 in seventh heaven as oil, miners gain; Ocado hits life high

(Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 extended its winning streak to seven sessions on Tuesday as miners and oil majors boosted the index and Ocado climbed to an all-time high after posting higher first-quarter retail sales.

A worker shelters from the rain under a Union Flag umbrella as he passes the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain, October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent. The index held on to its five-month high and is now on its longest streak of gains since May 2017.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 was up 0.3 percent as investors waited for further Brexit developments with reports that Prime Minister Theresa May would ask the European Union to delay Brexit by at least three months.

May’s Brexit plans were derailed after the speaker of Britain’s parliament said on Monday that her deal could not be voted on again after two thumping defeats unless a different proposal was submitted.

Sterling, which fell after Tuesday’s Brexit update but later recovered losses, remained steady as investors awaited further clarity on the state of Britain’s divorce from the EU.

“You must say the sanguine reaction in currency markets reflects the fact that no one really knows where this leaves the Brexit story,” Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.

Heavyweight oil majors helped lift the main index as supply cuts by OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela buttressed prices, while miners rose on China’s plan to cut tax for manufacturers from April.

Online supermarket Ocado, added 5.4 percent to hit an all-time peak after posting a double-digit jump in first-quarter retail sales, despite growth being hit by last month’s fire at a large distribution centre.

Chilean copper miner Antofagasta advanced 2.8 percent, touching a seven-month high, as a higher-than-anticipated dividend payout overshadowed a drop in annual core earnings.

Drugmaker Hikma was 2.5 percent higher after a rating upgrade from Citi and positive comments on growth prospects from Jefferies, while events manager and publisher Informa rose 3.7 percent on its best day in nearly 18 months after a Morgan Stanley upgrade.

Sainsbury’s ended 0.9 percent higher. Britain’s No. 2 supermarket chain and Walmart’s Asda committed to deliver 1 billion pounds of annual price cuts in an attempt to salvage their proposed merger after being dealt a potentially fatal blow by the country’s competition watchdog.

Mid-cap oilfield and engineering services provider Wood Group tumbled 8.1 percent after warning that its deleveraging plan would be more gradual than originally anticipated.

But, TP ICAP, the world’s largest interdealer broker, climbed 4.9 percent higher on its best day since August 2017 after its full-year underlying pretax profit beat analysts’ estimates.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Heinrich

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