United Kingdom

UK midcaps surge to record high on improving consumer sentiment

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People look towards Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park in London, Britain December 27, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

  • Flutter Entertainment top blue-chip gainer
  • FTSE 100 ends at 1-mth high
  • Sporting events push UK consumer spending in July

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Signs of improvement in British consumer spending drove the mid-cap index to a record high on Tuesday, while gains in betting firm Flutter and a recovery in energy stocks supported the FTSE 100.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index (.FTMC) climbed 0.5% to a record close of 23,572.05 points. Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG.L) was among the top boosts to the index after it flagged strong demand going into next year.

Homebuilder Bellway PLC (BWY.L)rose 1.2% after it said its housing revenue was approaching pre-pandemic levels, and that bookings pointed to healthy demand across the country.

Surveys also showed sporting events and summer holidays prompted a big increase in consumer spending in July, aided by the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on a steady vaccination program. read more

Still, analysts questioned whether consumer spending was out of the woods yet, considering a recent rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.

"The outlook for travel and leisure stocks is kind of mixed at the moment, with most shares clocking gains but still being off their highs due to rising uncertainties regarding the Delta variant," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE) rose 0.4% to end at a one-month high of 7,161.04 points.

Flutter Entertainment (FLTRF.I), jumped 7.8% and was the best performer on the index, after it said it expects a U.S. profit in 2023, despite a 12% drop in first-half earnings.

Energy stocks recovered from a slump on Monday, tracking a recovery in oil prices. Mining stocks rose as concerns over Chilean copper supply supported metal prices.

British insurer and asset manager M&G (MNG.L) dropped 3.1% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 even after it posted an above-forecast 6% rise in first-half operating profit and said it was on track to meet its end-2022 capital generation target.

Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Angus MacSwan

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