London stocks rise as coronavirus lockdowns begin to ease

Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick
FILE PHOTO: A street cleaning operative walks past the London Stock Exchange Group building in the City of London financial district, whilst British stocks tumble as investors fear that the coronavirus outbreak could stall the global economy, in London

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) - London-listed shares ended higher on Monday as markets took heart from a scaling back of coronavirus restrictions, with consumer stocks among the best performers.

Associated British Foods <ABF.L> jumped 8% after its fashion brand Primark outlined plans to reopen all 153 of its stores in England on June 15.

The stock was among the best performers on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index <.FTSE>, which added about 1.5% for the day.

The domestically-sensitive mid-cap index <.FTMC> was up 1.4%, propped up by consumer discretionary stocks on hopes that the UK economy would rebound.

Both the bluechip and the midcap indexes had ended May on a downbeat note on fears of a strong U.S. response to China's move to impose a national security law in Hong Kong. But global equity markets rallied on Monday as U.S. President Donald Trump made no mention of pulling out of the Phase 1 trade deal while saying his administration would begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong. [MKTS/GLOB]

"Re-opening optimism reigns supreme as markets have temporarily shelved the U.S.-China trade war escalation playbooks in favour of the bullish-for-market re-opening scripts," said Stephen Innes, markets strategist at Axicorp.

Shares of Standard Chartered PLC <STAN.L> and HSBC <HSBA.L> - banks with substantial operations in Hong Kong - rose about 8.7% and 2.6% respectively.

The FTSE 100 has recovered about 26% since crashing to an eight-year low in March, with battered travel <.FTNMX5750> and mining <.FTNMX1770> stocks posting some of the sharpest gains.

AstraZeneca <AZN.L> rose 1.4% after its and U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc's <MRK.N> cancer drug received a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency as a maintenance treatment for a form of pancreatic cancer.

Fashion brand Ted Baker <TED.L> ended higher after it said it would raise 95 million pounds ($117.84 million) through a stock issue to help it ride out the coronavirus crisis, after reporting a loss of 79.9 million pounds for the year to January.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Andrew Heavens)