Morrisons Lifts London Mid-caps As Virus Fears Weigh
British mid-caps rose on Monday, led by gains in heavyweight mining stocks and supermarket chain Morrisons, while investors looked past rising local coronavirus infections as the UK prepared to ease lockdowns.
Morrisons jumped 11.3% to the top of the mid-cap index after US private-equity firm Apollo Global Management said it was considering a possible offer for the British company, which on Saturday agreed to a £6.3-billion takeover from another group.
The domestically focused FTSE 250 index rose by 0.3%, with base metal miners gaining nearly 1.3%, while travel stocks gained 0.4% on reopening optimism.
"Supermarkets have done well since the beginning of the lockdown last year and with the restrictions about to be lifted, these stocks are well geared to gain ... with an added benefit of a lot of them being a target of foreign flows," said Michael Baker, an analyst at ETX Capital.
Final Step Of Easing Lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out plans for the final step of easing lockdown in England on Monday. The remaining legal restrictions are due to be lifted on 19 July, with the decision on whether to go ahead scheduled for 12 July.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index eased by 0.2%.
"We have seen a push higher into equities since the beginning of this year and it seems to be a slowdown period right now as investors are kind of staying away to get a better idea about the reopening rules," said Baker.
The FTSE 100 has gained nearly 10.0% so far this year on government stimulus support and record low interest rates, but is nearly 9.5% away from its record highs, largely underperforming its European and US peers.
Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the owner of the rights to artists including Neil Young and Shakira, gained 0.7% after it reported a jump in annual earnings and raised its dividend.