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FTSE 100 posts best session in over 4 mths on defensive, energy boost

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By Reuters
FTSE 100 gains after choppy week with oil stocks in lead
FTSE 100 gains after choppy week with oil stocks in lead   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

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– UK’s FTSE 100 ended higher on Monday, posting its best session in over four months as defensive sectors and energy shares led gains, while Deliveroo fell on concerns about a European Union ruling on gig workers.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended 1.7% higher at 7,232.28, its best session since July 21.

Defensive sectors such as consumer staples and healthcare tend to be less sensitive to the economic climate than some other groups. British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever gained nearly 2% and were among the biggest boosts.

Most sectors ended in positive territory as sentiment steadied after a volatile start to December that was dominated by fears around the Omicron coronavirus variant and an increasingly hawkish outlook by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

A health official in South Africa said early observations of children sick with COVID-19 in the country that has been driven by the Omicron variant showed mild infections.

“Today is a kind of double bullish whammy,” said Stuart Cole, head macroeconomist at Equiti Capital. “You’ve got stocks that are cheap to buy, and you’ve got a reason to buy them in that as some of the fear that was around last week seems to have been taken away.”

Deliveroo ended 3.2% down after hitting a record low earlier in the session. European peers Just Eat Takeaway and Delivery Hero also fell about 5% each on fears of the European Commission’s proposal concerning employment rights and the status of gig economy workers hitting the profitability of these companies.

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell added almost 2% each as crude prices jumped on hopes that the Omicron variant would have a less damaging economic impact if its symptoms proved mostly mild. [O/R]

Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent said that inflation in Britain might “comfortably exceed” 5% in April and that the country’s tight labour market risked becoming a more persistent source of inflation.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index advanced 1.1%, with chemicals company Victrex PLC adding 4.3% after reporting a 46% rise in its pre-tax profit.

Chemicals firm Synthomer Plc declined 14.1% after a downgrade and price target cut by Morgan Stanley.