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FTSE 100 powers through 7000 mark for first time in a year

FTSE 100 powers through 7000 mark for first time in a year
FTSE 100 powers through 7000 mark for first time in a year


FTSE 100 powers through 7000 mark for first time in more than a year as optimism rises about a global economic recovery

  • The last time the blue-chip index was above 7000 was in late February 2020 
  • A month later it had fallen below the 5000 mark after weeks of panic selling 
  • The turnaround has been driven by the vaccine rollout which continues at pace

The FTSE 100 has powered through the 7000 mark for the first time in more than a year as optimism rises about a global economic recovery. 

The last time the blue-chip index was above that milestone was in late February 2020 as investors were gauging the full magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A month later it had fallen below the 5000 mark after weeks of panic selling. 

But yesterday it finished up 0.5 per cent, or 36.03 points, at 7019.53 while The FTSE 250 rose to a record high as it gained 0.2 per cent, or 50.14 points, to 22,522.18. 

The turnaround has been driven by the vaccine rollout which continues at pace. 

As a result there is increasingly positive talk about the future state of the economy. 

Investors are once again seeing opportunity rather than threat in UK shares. 

Russ Mould, director at AJ Bell, said: ‘This represents a massive milestone in recovering from the terrible pandemic and shows how investors’ confidence has completely changed since just over a year ago. 

‘The market was understandably shocked as coronavirus gripped the world but in true investor style it has quickly focused on the future and the ability for corporate earnings to recover.’ 

Major gains were made by miners that were boosted by strong economic data from China and rising oil prices. 

Brent Crude has risen 7 per cent this week to $67 per barrel. Rio Tinto added 1.2 per cent, or 70p, at 6054p and Anglo American climbed 1.6 per cent, or 50p, to 3199p. The re-opening of bars, restaurants and retailers this week has been a boost and Wetherspoons was up 1.1 per cent, or 15p, at 1384p and Restaurant Group gained 1 per cent, or 1.2p, to 123p. 

British Airways owner IAG was also in positive territory as UK holidaymakers hope they can be given the green light to go away this summer. IAG was up 0.6 per cent, or 1.3p, at 208p. 

Time for take-off? British Airways owner IAG was also in positive territory as UK holidaymakers hope they can be given the green light to go away this summer

Time for take-off? British Airways owner IAG was also in positive territory as UK holidaymakers hope they can be given the green light to go away this summer

Although having broken the psychologically important 7000 barrier, the FTSE 100 remains more than 500 points below its level at the start of last year and has lagged behind several other major markets. 

The Footsie’s record high was close to 7900 in 2018. Analysts said London’s problem during the pandemic has been not enough big technology companies that have ridden the wave of an investment boom in New York. 

Steve Clayton, fund manager at Hargreaves Lansdown, said ‘The UK market has much bigger exposure to commodities and banking than Wall Street or Frankfurt, so the performance of those sectors will be key to the UK’s relative performance in the years ahead.’ 

Markets around the globe were also on the charge and in Paris the Cac 40 rose 52.94 points at 6287.07 and the Dax in Germany gained 204.42 at 15,459.75. 

In the US there were fresh record highs as the S&P and Dow Jones continued to climb. 

Koichi Fujishiro, economist at Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life, said ‘The US recovery looks really strong. And now that restaurants and hotels, both of which are labour intensive, are reopening, we could see sharp gains in payrolls in coming month.’

CHINA SPRINGS BACK TO LIFE 

China’s economy grew at the fastest pace on record at the start of the year as it continued its recovery from the pandemic. 

Official figures showed output jumped 18.3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021 – the strongest performance since records began in 1992. The world’s second largest economy has bounced back from the economic shock caused by Covid. 

The figures were skewed after a plunge in economic activity in the same period last year when the country went into lockdown.



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Big guns back GlaxoSmithKline in war with activist Elliott

Big guns back GlaxoSmithKline in war with activist Elliott
Big guns back GlaxoSmithKline in war with activist Elliott


Big guns back GlaxoSmithKline in war with US raider: BlackRock among top investors lining up to defend drugs giant in showdown with activist Elliott

  • BlackRock plus fifth largest shareholder Dodge & Cox, along with Royal London, have contacted Glaxo’s chairman to pledge support  
  • Speculation is rife that Elliott is set to push for a dramatic new plan that could see the FTSE100 firm sold off in parts or swallowed up by a foreign rival 
  • It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name 

Three major investors have backed GlaxoSmithKline’s board amid fears that a US hedge fund is plotting to force through an audacious shake-up of the drugs giant. 

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that BlackRock – GSK’s biggest investor and the world’s largest asset manager – plus its fifth largest shareholder Dodge & Cox, along with Royal London, have all contacted the pharmaceutical firm’s chairman to pledge support ahead of a battle with Elliott Management. 

Speculation is rife that activist Elliott is set to push for a dramatic new plan that could see the FTSE100 firm sold off in parts or swallowed up by a foreign rival. It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name.

Plot: It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name

Plot: It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name

City sources said shareholders in the £69billion company had urged chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds to stick to the strategy of overhauling its drugs pipeline and splitting the group in two next year. The backing of the trio of investors – particularly BlackRock, which has a gigantic £4billion stake – is a huge boost for GSK’s under-fire management. 

Chief executive Emma Walmsley’s master plan for splitting the company involves spinning off GSK’s consumer healthcare arm, which was formed in a £10billion joint venture with US giant Pfizer. It would then be floated as a separate company. 

After demerging the consumer division – with brands including Sensodyne toothpaste and Panadol paracetamol – GSK would be left as purely a pharmaceuticals and vaccines business. 

Elliott has been keeping quiet about its intentions at GSK since emerging last month as a new multibillion-pound shareholder. But several well-placed bankers and investors told The Mail on Sunday they thought the activist would push for more than simply accelerating Walmsley’s demerger plan. Walmsley has faced criticism for moving too slowly.

 Elliott, founded by Wall Street billionaire Paul Singer, has a reputation for sparking major strategic overhauls after waging successful campaigns against other corporates including yogurt giant Danone, drinks maker SABMiller and hospitality firm Whitbread. 

One top ten investor said: ‘Elliott is in it for a fast buck. That’s its modus operandi. It’s in it for shareholder returns as fast as it can get. Splitting in two more quickly isn’t going to make a difference. If you shake up management, again that will cause a hiatus. 

‘It’s plausible it could be looking to break the company up even more, or get it to merge with another company.’ But the source added: ‘Would the UK Government allow Glaxo to be sold to a foreign company? That’s very unlikely.’ 

A rival activist fund manager said: ‘Elliott has probably got a buyer to do a merger for the pharma business in the States. There will be synergies. It’ll be a mega-cap.’ Another large investor said Elliott was unlikely to want a merger with AstraZeneca, adding: ‘I can’t see the boards being willing to throw in the towel.’ 

Samuel Johar, chairman of executive search firm Buchanan Harvey, said: ‘GSK has been poorly managed for at least 15 years. Therefore, it is not a surprise that an activist like Elliott has arrived at the scene. 

‘I think it is the end of GSK and a great British icon. It is highly likely that it will be broken up and sold. It would be very tragic for the UK.’ 

Senior sources with knowledge of Elliott’s approach played down the idea that it would push for a piecemeal sale or break-up. But they questioned whether speeding up the demerger was ‘technically possible’. 

Walmsley is due to present her long-term outlook to investors on June 23. As head of the world’s largest vaccine maker, she has been criticised for failing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and instead assisting France’s Sanofi on a jab which has not yet come to market. 

A senior City source said: ‘Glaxo’s plan is all about improving the commercial side, beefing up the drugs pipeline and breaking off the consumer business. They must not get distracted.’ 

Walmsley has been criticised for saying: ‘I’m not a scientist, I’m a business leader.’ But Symonds later defended her. 

Sir Philip Hampton, the former GSK chairman who hired Walmsley, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘She’s strategically strong, but the company is doing a surprising number of challenging deals. That isn’t her main background.’ 

GSK’s shares have fallen 19 per cent since Walmsley took charge in 2017. 

A GSK spokesman said: ‘Our shareholders are keen for us to deliver and we are making good progress.’ 

Elliott, BlackRock, Dodge & Cox and Royal London declined to comment.



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Record breaker rides Alton Towers Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours

Record breaker rides Alton Towers Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours
Record breaker rides Alton Towers Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours


A record-breaking daredevil has braved the terrifying Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours – despite suffering from vertigo.

Thrill-seeker l Shawn Sanbrooke has broken the world record for rollercoaster riding after taming the Alton Towers ride which has 3.5 G-force.

And the previous record was set by none other than Shawn himself. The 29-year-old managed to complete 63 laps of the 32m high ride in Stoke-on-Trent in 2019.

Shawn knew he could beat his own crazy record and the intrepid Staffordshire vlogger took advantage of the park being quiet when it reopened, according to the Stoke Sentinel.

He managed to complete 64 laps this time, in just six hours, but admitted he felt like he’d been on ‘a very heavy night out’ when he returned home. What’s even more remarkable is that Shawn actually suffers from vertigo – an inner ear problem which causes extreme dizziness.



Daredevil braved the nemesis despite his vertigo
Daredevil braved the nemesis despite his vertigo

He said: “It’s arguably one of the most intense rides in the country now. It’s no easy feat. It’s strange, I actually have a medical condition that stops me from driving. I have dizziness, I have vertigo.

“Everyone always thinks that I’m nuts for going on rollercoasters, but it doesn’t make those symptoms any worse.



The Nemesis is not for the faint hearted
The Nemesis is not for the faint hearted

“When people come off rollercoasters and say they’ve got a headache or they feel a bit dizzy, I already feel that way. I don’t know if that helps.

“As soon as I got home and lay in bed I felt as though I’d been on a very heavy night out. I was spinning, I was dizzy, but I managed to beat the record.”

Shawn has a season pass for Alton Towers, which has ten main rollercoasters including the Nemesis, an inverted coaster that has a drop speed of 50mph. Riders experience approximately 3.5 times the force of gravity on the one-minute, 20-second ride.



Shawn is a big fan of Alton Towers
Shawn is a big fan of Alton Towers

“It was torrential rain. I was the only person not wearing a poncho because if I left the queue to go and buy a poncho then I would have wasted laps. I didn’t have any food, I didn’t stop for any dinner, didn’t stop for any toilet breaks.

“I was on Nemesis, coming out walking back around, and going back on from 10am until 4pm when the park closed.”





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Rolls-Royce in talks with Boeing for a ‘clean sheet’ jetliner

Rolls-Royce in talks with Boeing for a ‘clean sheet’ jetliner
Rolls-Royce in talks with Boeing for a ‘clean sheet’ jetliner


Beoing’s new 797 mid-sized jetliner could be powered by advanced Rolls-Royce UltraFan engines, according to statements made by the British engineering giant’s CEO, Warren East, at the company’s annual meeting.

Working on the project would give Rolls an edge as it battles to survive the Covid crisis. It currently only supplies engines for large aircraft.

Rapid advances in technology mean that smaller planes can increasingly fly long-haul routes, meaning jumbo planes will be needed far less in the coming years.

During Rolls-Royce’s annual meeting, East was quoted to have said:

“It is fairly well documented that Boeing is exploring the opportunity for a new aircraft…like the other engine manufacturers, I am sure, we are in dialog with Boeing about that.”



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Leading conservatives Raisi and Larijani enter Iran presidential race

Leading conservatives Raisi and Larijani enter Iran presidential race
Leading conservatives Raisi and Larijani enter Iran presidential race


“I have come as an independent to the stage to make changes in the executive management of the country and to fight poverty, corruption, humiliation and discrimination,” the 60-year-old Mr Raisi said in a statement on Saturday before registering his candidacy.

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Business booms at Hargreaves Lansdown amid Online trading frenzy

Business booms at Hargreaves Lansdown amid Online trading frenzy
Business booms at Hargreaves Lansdown amid Online trading frenzy


Online trading frenzy sees Hargreaves Lansdown win record levels of new business

Hargreaves Lansdown won record levels of new business over the first four months of the year as investors rushed to take advantage of the online trading frenzy.

The shares and funds platform saw 126,000 savers start using its services between January and April, taking its total customer numbers to 1.6m.

And they piled in £4.6billion into their accounts over that time to invest in the stock market.

Trading frenzy: Hargreaves saw 126,000 savers start using its services between January and April, taking its total customer numbers to 1.6m

Trading frenzy: Hargreaves saw 126,000 savers start using its services between January and April, taking its total customer numbers to 1.6m

But shares fell 4.6 per cent after the firm warned trading volumes had started to ease since lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Younger savers were especially drawn to Hargreaves early this year, with a 150 per cent increase in the number of customers logging into their online accounts, particularly via the mobile app. 

The firm said the average age of its clients was now 36, down from 37 last year and 45 in 2012.

Several trading and investment platforms have reported a boom in the number of young people starting to take an interest in the stock market, following the popularity of stocks such as Gamestop which were heavily hyped on social media.

And households have built up savings during the pandemic, thought to be worth around £200bn, as opportunities to spend have been squashed by successive lockdowns.

With interest rates at rock bottom, those accidental savers are now looking for places to invest. 

Wealth manager Brewin Dolphin also saw its assets under management rise by 10.5 per cent in the six months to March to £47.6billion, as chief executive Robin Beer said the firm had reached out ‘clients who have been able to accumulate higher levels of savings over the last year’.

The boom at Hargreaves lifted its revenues for the first four months of 2021 to £233.2million, from £190.2million the same time a year earlier. 

But the firm is still facing legal action over its promotion of Neil Woodford’s doomed Equity Income fund, which it backed right up until the fund’s suspension in 2019.

Hargreaves’ chief executive Chris Hill said trading was driven by the bizarre Gamestop phenomenon which emerged this year.

Gamestop, a little-known and relatively unsuccessful company in the US, saw its share price soar after young people on social media encouraged each other to pile in – purely to deal a blow to the hedge funds which were betting against it.

The anarchist attitude spread to some other stocks, and piqued the interest of savers who began buying the shares in the hope of making a quick profit.

Earlier this week, the City watchdog’s chief executive Nikhil Rathi cautioned that investors could lose their money on speculative trades such as crypto-currencies and Gamestop-style stocks.



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UK weather: ‘Colder than Finland’ as boozy Brits brave outdoor weekend before pubs open

UK weather: ‘Colder than Finland’ as boozy Brits brave outdoor weekend before pubs open
UK weather: ‘Colder than Finland’ as boozy Brits brave outdoor weekend before pubs open


Brits should brace themselves for a week of rain and thunderstorms following a chilly weekend that will see the UK colder than Finland.

Below average temperatures teamed with thundery showers will thrash the UK in unsettling weather that is expected to stick around until the end of May.

The Met Office warned of persistent heavy rain across the country, with a yellow weather warning in place for the south west of England.

Oli Claydon, a spokesman for the forecaster, said the bleak with “is set to remain for the foreseeable future.”

He said: “Essentially the set-up in weather that we’ve got at the moment is set to remain for the foreseeable future.”



Rain
Rain is set to thrash the UK for the rest of May

So far, the UK has seen 53.6mm of rain up to May 11 – 77% of the month’s average total, sparking concerns the dreary weather could make the month the wettest on record.

To make matters worse, chilly lows will see England warmer than Finland this weekend, with temperatures “way down on where they should be,” BBC weather presenter Matt Taylor said.



Rain
The country has faced 77% of May rain-full so far and we’re halfway through the month



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Mr Taylor said: “It’s even warmer in Finland than it is here in the UK where temperatures are well down on where they should be for this stage in the month.

“And to go with that cool feel there’s more rain in the forecast this afternoon and particularly tomorrow with some nasty thundery downpour expected.”



Rain
Fortunately, the bleak weather won’t put a damper on Brits plans to booze

Fortunately, the bleak weather won’t put a damper on Brits plans to booze as they’ll able to drink and dine indoors from Monday May 17.

At the moment, punters are only able to sesh outside with their mates in line with Boris Johnson’s lockdown plan.

From Monday, they can swap their rain coats for the warmth of inside dining, with around 45,000 pubs expected to open for business.

Many would have been closed for six months, losing out on Bank Holiday, Christmas and New Year profits, some of the busiest times for the industry.





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