May 22, 2018 / 9:24 AM / 7 months ago

FTSE posts new highs, sets sight on 8,000 points

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK’s top share index ventured further into new unchartered highs on Tuesday as shares in financials and miners rose further, triggering anticipations it could soon reach the 8,000 points benchmark.

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed up 0.2 percent and hit a fresh record of 7,903.50 points during the session before reducing its gains to 7877.45 points.

“At the rate it’s going, we should hit this round number (8,000 points) by Thursday, if not earlier,” said IG’s market analyst Chris Beauchamp during morning trading.

He pointed out that this performance comes despite “political ennui, Brexit turmoil and a deteriorating consumer backdrop”.

The sharp fall in the pound since the middle of April has given an accounting boost to blue-chip companies which generate some of their revenues in foreign currencies and makes their shares cheaper for foreign investors.

Sentiment towards risk assets also improved since the United States and China agreed to continue talks to boost U.S. exports to China, easing worries over a possible global trade war.

“The FTSE benefits from a smooth ... trade outlook between the United States and China,” Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index, said.

Rises between 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent in HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays shares helped boost the index as did gains in miners including Fresnillo, Glencore or BHP Billiton.

Shares in British retailer Marks & Spencer were the worst performing of the index and lost 2.8 percent after it disclosed plans to close more than 100 stores in its home market by 2022.

Among smaller companies, results weighed on Pets at Home, which fell more than 13 percent as lower margins weighed on full-year profit. The company has been trying to cut prices to fend off German rival Zooplus.

British bicycles to car parts retailer Halfords fell 11.7 percent to the lowest since the beginning of April after it warned profits were unlikely to grow this year.

Inmarsat dropped 7 percent on the back of concerns that its monopoly in maritime safety communications could come under threat from rival Iridium Communications.

Among winners, sandwich maker Greencore surged 5.1 percent following some well-received half-year earnings.

Reporting by Kit Rees and Julien Ponthus, Editing by William Maclean

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