Politics drives domestic shares higher; FTSE cheers trade signs
January 24, 2021

Politics drives domestic shares higher; FTSE cheers trade signs

London’s mid-cap index outperformed its European counterparts on Friday after the Brexit Party lent further clarity ahead of the Dec. 12 election, while hopes that a U.S.-China may be imminent helped the FTSE 100 eke out gains.

The FTSE 250 <.FTMC> advanced 0.9% as domestically-focused stocks rose after Nigel Farage’s party stood down from more seats not held by the Conservative Party, which could help Tories gain a majority in the upcoming election.

As a result, the index bagged its third straight week of gains.

A Conservative victory is being considered most likely to push Brexit through. Blue-chip homebuilders Persimmon <PSN.L> and Taylor Wimpey <TW.L>, traditionally more exposed to Brexit developments, also rose.

The main index inched 0.1% higher, boosted by miners <.FTNMX1770>, as well as oil majors BP <BP.L> and Shell <RDSa.L>, after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Washington was getting close to a trade pact with Beijing.

That outweighed a dip in exporter stocks as sterling rose to a 10-day high after political developments at home.

Shares of telecom companies were a major blip on the index after Britain’s opposition Labour party vowed to nationalise parts of the telecoms provider BT if it won power in the Dec. 12 election.

BT <BT.L> slipped 1%, while peers Vodafone <VOD.L> and TalkTalk <TALK.L> gave up roughly 3% each, after Labour’s latest salvo less than a month out from the election, in which Credit Suisse believes Tories currently have the edge.

“Our base case is a Conservative majority, though lower than the polls currently predict,” Credit Suisse analyst Sonali Punhan wrote.

“Voting is likely to be very fluid and could change as we move closer to the polling day… The election result is likely to be very uncertain.”

Some other firms at risk of being nationalised under a Labour government, though initially muted, gained after prospects of a Tory victory increased. Royal Mail <RMG.L> added 2.7% and RBS <RBS.L> climbed 1.5%.

FirstGroup <FGP.L> led mid-cap gainers with an 8% rise after Britain’s competition watchdog said it could accept undertakings offered by the company and Italy’s TrenItalia for the West Coast rail franchise.

Struggling floor coverings retailer Carpetright <CPRC.L> surged 15% to 4.87 pence, its best day in nearly seven months, after agreeing to be taken private by its largest shareholder in a 5 pence a share deal.

By contrast, lender Non-Standard Finance <NSF.L> tumbled 18% to an all-time low after a profit warning. Its shares have slumped nearly 30% since June, when it failed in a hostile takeover of larger rival Provident Financial <PFG.L>.

(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.

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