Recharged trade hopes boost FTSE, mid-caps hit 15-month high

By Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong
FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

By Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 rose on Monday on renewed hopes an initial Sino-U.S. trade deal may be clinched this year while further signs the Conservatives are set to win an election next month drove mid-caps to their highest since September 2018.

The main index <.FTSE> climbed 1%, boosted by miners <.FTNMX1770> and Asia-focused financial stocks HSBC <HSBA.L> and Prudential <PRU.L> after the U.S. national security adviser said a preliminary trade deal was possible this year.

The index, which jumped more than 1% in the previous session, was also supported by a 3% gain in Burberry <BRBY.L> after rival LVMH <LVMH.PA> agreed to buy U.S. jeweller Tiffany <TIF.N> for $16.2 billion.

The more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 <.FTMC> rose 1.1%, in tandem with sterling after opinion polls showed the Conservatives were still favourites to win the Dec. 12 election, raising the likelihood of Brexit happening.

The mid-cap index has gained 2.5% since Oct. 29, when parliament approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for an election, and hit its highest since Sept. 4, 2018.

Blue-chip housebuilders such as Berkeley <BKGH.L>, Barratt <BDEV.L> and Persimmon <PSN.L> climbed about 1.5% each while UK-exposed banks such as Lloyds <LLOY.L>, Barclays <BARC.L> and RBS <RBS.L> advanced nearly 2%.

JP Morgan's basket of London-listed firms <.JPDEUKDM> that make their cash at home rallied 1.4% to its highest since April.

However, shares of Restaurant Group <RTN.L> slumped nearly 9% after the owner of Frankie & Benny's reported slowing like-for-like sales growth at its Wagamama business in Britain.

Hochschild Mining <HOCM.L>, which fell 9% on Friday after a lacklustre production outlook for 2020, also underperformed, losing another 7% and hitting its lowest in almost six months.

Despite a firmer pound, the exporter-heavy FTSE posted gains as Sino-U.S. trade sentiment was boosted by China's assurance of stronger protections for intellectual property, which analysts have identified as a key factor in trade talks.

"The move suggests that key concessions are being made in order to increase the prospects of a partial U.S.-China deal, which is giving investors another opportunity to capitalise on risk-on trading activity," FXTM analyst Han Tan said.

IAG <ICAG.L> rose 2% after British Airways and its pilots union BALPA reached a preliminary agreement to end the pay dispute that resulted in the first walkout by pilots in the airline's history.


(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and David Clarke)