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FTSE 100 Advances as Commodity Stocks Rally

London's FTSE 100

The FTSE 100, the UK’s blue-chip index, saw a 1.0% rise on Thursday, marking its third consecutive week of gains. The index reached its highest level in over three weeks, ending the holiday-shortened week approximately 1.4% higher. This increase in FTSE 100 was supported by gains in the oil and gas, financial, and healthcare sectors.

Heavyweight Shell experienced a 2.3% rise, driven by its forecast of higher liquefied natural gas (LNG) output in the first quarter.

Banks also saw a 1.5% increase, with HSBC Plc contributing significantly with a 1.6% gain.

Andrew Bell, Chief Executive at Witan Investment Trust, noted that “Markets are getting more relaxed about where interest rates might peak, and a number of sector-specific factors are helping the UK, particularly the recovery of banks and profit upgrades in the oil sector.”

In contrast, Wall Street’s main indexes faced declines due to concerns about slowing economic growth attributed to rapid interest rate hikes. The release of U.S. monthly payrolls data on Friday, coinciding with the Good Friday holiday when most major markets will be closed, added to the uncertainty.

TUI’s CEO, Sebastian Ebel, stated that summer 2023 travel activity is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels.

While signs of cooling inflation and a robust UK labor market have raised hopes of avoiding a recession this year, concerns about the weakening U.S. economy and banking turmoil have been affecting market sentiment recently.

UK homebuilder stocks saw a 1.5% increase as mortgage lender Halifax reported a third consecutive monthly rise in house prices for March.

On the downside, Robert Walters Plc experienced a 2.5% decline, citing persistent market challenges and challenges in the technology industry’s recruitment due to layoffs.

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