Commodity-linked stocks push FTSE 100 higher

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FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain
The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
  • Bank stocks extend decline from last week
  • Glencore gains on BofA, UBS upgrade
  • FTSE 100 up 0.9%, FTSE 250 adds 0.1%

March 20 (Reuters) - London stocks ended higher on Monday, reversing earlier declines as investors digested Swiss lender UBS's weekend deal to rescue rival Credit Suisse, while gains in mining stocks helped the commodity-linked FTSE 100.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE) rose 0.9%, after hitting its lowest level in more than four months in the session, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 (.FTMC) eked out 0.1% gain.

"There is a bit of a relief rally going on in stocks which saw heavy losses in last week," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG Group.

"The sell-off this morning gave way to a rebound as people look at (UBS-Credit Suisse deal) in a more calm fashion."

Industrial metal miners (.FTNMX551020) rose 3.4%, with Glencore Plc (GLEN.L) jumping 3.9% after BofA Global Research and UBS upgraded the metal miner to "buy."

Strength in metal prices as the dollar weakened added to the sector's gains.

Precious metal miners (.FTNMX551030) jumped 4.3%, tracking strength in gold prices as investors fled to the safe-haven metal.

British banks (.FTNMX301010) however, lagged and closed down 0.5%. The index pared declines after slumping as much as nearly 6% during the day.

"The scale of the response from central banks at the weekend acknowledges gaps in the system, which will leave many investors unwilling to revisit financial stocks until such time as the full extent of the problem is known," said Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor.

The FTSE 100 recently gave up its year-to-date gains, to fall 0.6% on the year, as fears of a meltdown in the global banking sector dented investor sentiment.

Investors now await the U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision and February UK inflation data due on Wednesday, to gauge the state of the economy before the Bank of England's (BoE) interest rate decision later this week.

Traders are evenly split between a 25 basis-point hike and the BoE keeping rates at the current level on Thursday. <0#BOEWATCH>

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs said it saw no economic growth in the UK this year and no longer expects BoE to hike its policy rate in May.

Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza, Subhranshu Sahu and Richard Chang

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Shristi is a correspondent, part of the markets team reporting on the stock markets across U.S., UK, Canada, Europe and Emerging markets.