December 28, 2018 / 8:46 AM / 6 months ago

Much-awaited holiday cheer finally arrives to UK markets

(Reuters) - British shares leaped off multi-year lows on Friday boosted by initial relief spilling over from the United States, where stocks sprang back on Thursday following steep losses as a turbulent 2018 neared its end.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work at their desks whilst screens show market data at CMC Markets in London, Britain, December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 2.27 percent and the FTSE 250 .FTMC was up 2.19 percent, with just one more trading day left in the year. All sectors bagged gains with the FTSE 100 recording its best day since April.

Both indexes had sunk to their lowest in more than two years in the previous session with the mid-cap bourse closing just shy of confirming a bear market over concerns about the global economy.

The UK indexes defended most gains on Friday, despite the Wall Street turning sour again by 1530 GMT.

Oil majors BP (BP.L) and Shell (RDSa.L) were among the biggest boosts to the FTSE, up 3.5 percent and 2.3 percent respectively as oil prices rebounded.

Shares in exporter companies also climbed, led by British American Tobacco (BATS.L) which rose 4.3 percent.

Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca (AZN.L), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and financial heavyweights HSBC (HSBA.L), Prudential (PRU.L) all added between 1.9 and 3.4 percent.

Britain’s mid-cap index, which is more exposed to uncertainties at home, was aided by strength in industrials and bank shares.

In single moves, the biggest support to the index was a 6.3 percent surge in shares of CYBG (CYBGC.L), the owner of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank.

The United States and China are locked in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, but while trade relations between the U.S. and China were still fraught, some saw signs of progress in recent days.

“The Chinese have liberalised, they’ve set up for more discussions in January. It’s not going to be a straight road but I think there’s a little bit of cause for optimism there,” Chris Bailey, Raymond James analyst, said.

Persisting worries over a slowdown in the global economy compounded by the trade spat have put U.S. bourses and their UK counterparts on course for their worst yearly losses since the 2008 financial crisis.

With a U.S. government shutdown also ongoing and Brexit uncertainties remaining unresolved, the FTSE 100 was on track for its worst quarterly fall since 2011, when Europe was battling a sovereign debt crisis.

It was down 10.3 percent this quarter.

Among a handful of stocks in the red, Xaar (XAR.L), which makes ink jets for printers, hit its lowest in over eight years, underperforming the rest of the small-cap index .FTSC with an 8 percent fall after a disappointing trading update.

In more bad news for the retail sector’s already subdued festive spirit, entertainment retailer HMV Retail said it would appoint administrators, with Sky News saying that would put about 2,200 jobs at risk.

Data had separately showed sales on Boxing Day - a key day for the retail industry - dipped.

HMV, among Britain’s best-known high street names, said it was calling in the administrators for the second time in six years, and it blamed a worsening market for CDs and DVDs.

HMV joins the likes of Toys R Us, House of Fraser and Mothercare (MTC.L) on the list of high-profile household names that have gone under this year amid Brexit jitters, lower consumer spending and rising labour costs.

For graphic on Oil majors vs FTSE, click

Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru, Editing by Helen Reid

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