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United Kingdom

London stocks end the week lower despite strong economic data

3 minute read

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

  • UK PMIs hit highest since Nov. 2013
  • FirstGroup jumps on $4.6 billion sale of two U.S. units
  • Mid-cap stocks snap four week winning streak
  • FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 end flat

April 23 (Reuters) - London's blue-chip stockswere little changed on Friday but finished the week lower as growing concerns over a surge in global coronavirus cases eclipsed optimism from recent data pointing to a rapid UK economic rebound.

The exporter-heavy index (.FTSE) ended the session flat, with a fall in heavyweight energy shares and large dollar earning companies including Diageo (DGE.L), AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT.L) weighing on the index.

Sectors tied to economic outlook, including miners (.FTNMX551020) and banks (.FTNMX301010) and travel and leisure (.FTNMX405010) outperformed during the session.

Latest data showed a deluge of new orders swept through British businesses in April as the country lifted some COVID-19 restrictions. read more

The report comes on the heels of a survey showing consumer sentiment touching a 13-month high this month, and a report showing retail sales soared past expectations in March. read more

"Collectively this week's data – from PMIs to retail sales – suggests that the hit to first quarter GDP from the recent lockdowns has been milder than first thought, but also that we should be bracing for a strong, circa 5% bounce in economic activity during the second quarter," economists at ING wrote in a note.

The FTSE 100 has gained 7.4% so far this year on optimism that speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and constant policy support from the government would drive a stronger economic recovery.

However, it is set for its biggest weekly decline since the end of February as a recent spike in cases in parts of Asia has stoked fears of delayed global economic recovery.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index (.FTMC) posted its first weekly drop in five.

Transport operator FirstGroup's shares (FGP.L) gained 4.4% after the company agreed to sell two North American bus businesses to EQT Infrastructure for $4.6 billion, including debt. read more

Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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