British retail reopening plan lifts blue chip index

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks past the London Stock Exchange Group building in the City of London financial district, in London, Britain, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to lift the coronavirus lockdown from more retailers drove a 1.2% rise in the blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE on Tuesday, while an easing of curbs on tourism helped travel stocks.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC rose 3.3% to its highest close in more than 2-1/2 months after Johnson said Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres next month.

“The consumer will need to do the bulk of the heavy lifting so confidence to get out of the house and start to live a normal life will be critical to this recovery,” Stephen Innes, markets strategist at AxiCorp, said.

The retailers index .FTNMX5370 rose 4.5%, closing at its highest level since early March.

Travel and leisure stocks .FTNMX5750 ended at a near one-month high after Spain said it would allow some foreign tourists from July and Germany was reported to be considering ending a travel warning for parts of Europe.

The FTSE 100 has recovered sharply from its March sell-off and is now on course for its biggest two-month percentage gain in two years. But it remains about 19% down on the year, with macroeconomic data pointing to a deep global recession.

Aston Martin AML.L shares surged more than 27% after the luxury carmaker said Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers would become its chief executive in August.

Oil and gas stocks .FTNMX0530 also rose, tracking crude prices on optimism that a revival in business activity would bring back demand for the commodity. [O/R]

Mining stocks .FTNMX1770 were driven lower by a stronger pound GBP=, while defensive stocks such as pharmaceuticals .FTNMX4570 and healthcare .FTNMX4530 also lost ground.

Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alexander Smith