Rising oil price lubricates investors as FTSE hits all-time high
LONDON'S top-flight index pushed to a record high yesterday as commodity stocks enjoyed a boost from the rising oil price.
The FTSE 100 Index reached a mid-session record of 7460.2 in early trading, before closing at an all-time high of 7,454.37.
Oil majors were given a leg-up after energy ministers from Russia and Saudi Arabia took further steps to tackle oversupply in the market by extending production cuts from the middle of 2017 until March next year.
The move caused Brent crude to soar by 2.6 per cent to US$52.18 a barrel, helping energy giants Royal Dutch Shell A and BP climb by 10.5p to 2,204p and 4.2p to 464.2p respectively.
Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said markets in the UK and Germany were also cheering the prospect of their governments winning upcoming elections.
He said: "Theresa May is going for the jugular and markets like it. Ahead of the official release of the Conservative Party manifesto, the prime minister announced plans to expand workers' rights.
"Her high approval rating and vote-winning policies give May an opportunity to take Labour seats sitting on small majorities.
"Investor cheer at a Conservative victory has gotten even louder since Labour's apparent plans for a 'Robin Hood tax' on financial transactions."
Across Europe, Germany's Dax was up 0.3 per cent and the CAC 40 in France rose by 0.1 per cent.
On the currency markets, the pound was making headway against the US dollar after the rallying oil price put a dent in the greenback.
Sterling was 0.2 per cent ahead against the US currency at 1.292, while the pound slipped 0.2 per cent versus the euro at 1.176.
Mr Lawler said the sour relationship between the UK currency and the FTSE 100 Index since the Brexit vote had started to fade.
"The negative correlation between the British pound and the FTSE 100 has broken down," he said.
"If the last two weeks are any guide, investors in UK stocks seem to be looking beyond foreign exchange.
"After consolidating in a 350-point range for most of the year, the FTSE 100 could be setting the stage for another surge higher – 7500 is the next big round number to overcome."
In UK stocks, the mining giants dominated the biggest risers on the back of the higher crude price.
Anglo American was the best performer, climbing 3.2 per cent or 33.5p to 1,074.5p, while Antofagasta rose by 17.5p to 791.5p, and Rio Tinto jumped by 49.5p to 3,019.5p.
It comes after China announced on Sunday that it would drive US$124 billion (£95.8bn) into its Silk Road plan, which aims to unlock $2 trillion dollars (£1.5tn) of imports over the next five years.
The mammoth infrastructure investment could provide a lucrative opportunity for London-listed resources firms as Beijing looks to build a modern-day version of the ancient Silk Road.
In a contrast of fortunes, Thomson-owner Tui was at the bottom of the pile as it unveiled another round of losses.
Shares were down more than 4 per cent, or 57p to 1,133p, as Europe's biggest tour operator posted a group loss of €308.6 million (£261m) in the six months to March 31, an improvement on the €394.9m (£334.3m) in the same period last year.
Revenue rose 3.3 per cent to €6.38bn (£5.4bn), with chief executive Fritz Joussen again pointing to a ''challenging environment''.
Away from the top tier, cyber security stocks were on the rise in response to the global ''ransomware'' attack, which claimed more than 200,000 victims in about 150 countries.
Security software firm Sophos Group was the biggest riser on the FTSE 250, closing up 24.8p to 366p.
Meanwhile, 888 Holdings took a tumble after the gambling watchdog launched an investigation into a business owned by the betting company.
The Gambling Commission said it was looking to see if a subsidiary of the firm was being "socially responsible" by complying with measures designed to protect customers. Shares were down 17.5p to 280.5p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American up 33.5p to 1,074.5p, Glencore up 9p to 294p, Standard Chartered up 21.3p to 766.9p, and Barclays up 4.7p to 210.6p.
The biggest fallers were TUI down 57p to 1,133p, Next down 81p to 4,264p, Direct Line Insurance down 5.9p to 350.7p, and Imperial Brands down 54.5p to 3,662.5p.