London’s FTSE 100 is closing in on a record high, with the bullish mood helped by growing hopes that the UK economy is proving more resilient than feared.
Around £350 billion has been added to the value of shares on the top index since its lowpoint last October, helped most recently by a run of strong trading updates from the high street.
The top two performers in the rebound are both well-known at home, standing out in a market that is also home to a host of multi-national companies.
Ocado, the online grocer and e-commerce tech provider, is up by the most since October’s trough, gaining over 90%. JD Sports is up almost 78% over the same period.
The general bullish mood is being helped by signs that the first Christmas free of Covid restrictions in years shaped up better than expected, with hard-pressed consumers prepared to spend even in the cost-of-living crisis. The winter World Cup also kept the tills ringing, increasing the chances that recession may not have started in the fourth quarter of last year.
Then, official data out today showed the value of all the goods and services produced in the UK in November rose, by 0.1%, defying economists’ predictions of a 0.3% decrease. The GDP numbers came amid hopes that inflation may have peaked, not least with the energy price shock easing, with gas prices falling over 50% in a month.
Here is a look at the leaderboard covering the rally, compiled by stockbroker AJ Bell using data from Sharepad.
International Consolidated Airlines
B&M European Value Retail
Russ Mould, investment director, called the list “an interesting collection,” consisting of “mainly retailers of various hues, a miner [Antofagasta], plus Prudential (China reopening) and IAG (lower oil prices) and a fund manager, abrdn, which can be seen as a geared play on financial markets.”
The rally since October only had five losers. All of them have defensive characteristics, which stand out during downturns but limit gains in wider rallies. They are British American Tobacco, and Airtel down by over 5%, Diageo, Coca-Cola HBC, Vodafone, and Airtel Africa.
Mould added: “Last year was a big turning point whereby the UK was one of the few major markets around the world not to see a big slump. Now if the FTSE 100 breaks a new record, it’s another trophy in the cabinet for the UK and a reason to shout from the hilltops that the market is not as dull as people think.”