FTSE’s coming home: markets buoyed as Boris Johnson sets out ‘freedom day’

·2-min read
Wetherspoon's chairman Tim Martin  (AFP/Getty Images)
Wetherspoon's chairman Tim Martin (AFP/Getty Images)

The re-opening trade got one final push from investors today after Boris Johnson signalled his intention to lift the last remaining lockdown restrictions later this month.

Shares in Mitchells & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon were ahead by more than 2% today as the hospitality industry cheered the prospect of Freedom Day on 19 July, including the long-awaited prospect of drinkers being welcomed back to the bar.

Other UK leisure stocks enjoying the ride included Upper Crust catering firm SSP, which surged 3%, while cinema chain Cineworld and Restaurant Group were both 2% stronger.

The domestic-focused FTSE 250 index rose 100.47 points to 22,847.04, but this momentum was as much to do with the latest private equity action after the outbreak of a full-blown bidding war for Morrisons meant its shares surged 11% or 26.3p to 266.1p.

There was also a gain of 10% or 16.6p to 185.8p for GCP Student Living after it disclosed on Friday night that its biggest shareholder, a Dutch pension fund advised by Blackstone, has made a takeover approach.

Discussions are ongoing but the real estate investment trust also noted that it is expecting a material increase in its property valuation for the period up to June 30. Shares in Empiric Student Property also climbed 4% or 3.2p to 90.2p.

The FTSE 100 index made more modest progress, despite Friday’s strong jobs report in the United States. The top flight was 8.87 points higher at 7,132.33, driven by gains of 1% or more in the banking and mining sectors as Barclays improved 3.2p to 175.64p and Anglo America cheered 39.5p to 2,986.5p.

British Airways owner IAG rebounded 3% or 5.4p to 185.5p while the price tag put on Morrisons by its private equity suitors boosted the read-across to the valuations of Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which climbed 3.1p to 227.7p and 4.9p to 276.9p respectively.

The session also marked the debut of Abrdn, the new name for Standard Life Aberdeen after it ditched the vowels earlier this year in the wake of selling part of its business to life insurer Phoenix.

It was keen to retain the Aberdeen connection, but as most domain names are linked to the Scottish city it has been forced to consider something different.

Shares were 1.2p higher at 275.3p.

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