The UK’s stock market is showing signs of life, after disappointing trading cast a cloud over the run-up to Christmas.
The FTSE 100 index of Britain’s largest listed companies lifted 2.3 per cent, or 149.29 points, to 6733.97 points, its best one-day rise since April.
Relief among investors was spilling over from the US, where stocks sprang back on Thursday after a brutal pre-Christmas slide prompted by growing fears that a recession may be approaching.
Gold did well over the festive season – amid fears that global stock markets were in decline
Only one Footsie company – gold miner Randgold Resources – actually ended the day lower than its Thursday closing price.
Gold did well over the festive season, according to precious metals trading platform Bullion Vault, amid fears that global stock markets were in decline.
Between December 4 and 27, Bullion Vault saw 93kg of gold bought over its platform, worth more than £3million.
Adrian Ash, the firm’s director of research, said: ‘If gold acts as a barometer of financial fears then it’s flashing red for 2019.
‘From Brexit to China’s hard economic slowdown, investors face a range of risks and shocks in the year ahead.
‘Gold’s long history of gaining when other assets fall looks likely to appeal as a form of insurance for investors of all sizes.’
But as stocks have rebounded, investors pulled back from gold and Randgold ended the day down 1.7 per cent, or 114p, at 6546p.
STOCK WATCH – PCG ENTERTAINMENT
Entertainment Media company PCG, which helps Western TV show and video game creators expand into Asia-Pacific countries such as China, fell as half-year losses widened from £556,000 to £1million.
Much of the losses arose when it axed a financing agreement which had not worked to its advantage.
It still has not made an investment in the firms it was interested in, and generated no revenues in the six months to September 30.
Shares fell 11.8 per cent, or 0.01p, to 0.07p.
British American Tobacco made the biggest gains, boosted by investor excitement over its international sales.
The cigarette maker, which has had a torrid year, ended 4.3 per cent higher, or 106.5p, at 2569p.
Subsiding worries about a trade war between the US and China, which have dogged the markets for much of 2018, gave a helping hand to raw materials firms and saw steel maker Evraz climb 3.7 per cent, or 17.2p, to 484.9p.
In the US, markets opened higher but fell back into the red as the day progressed. The S&P 500 was down 0.3 per cent yesterday, while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.4 per cent.
Experts said fewer people trading over the holiday period meant some significant buys and sells were having a more profound effect on the market.
But the good mood held strong for the FTSE 250, as online lending platform Funding Circle, which matches investors who want to make a loan with companies needing to borrow, saw its shares shoot up amid the investor sentiment U-turn.
Funding Circle, which only listed in September, has sparked limited interest so far and a critical research note from analysts at Jefferies last week pushed its shares down further.
But yesterday they rose 10.7 per cent, or 31.4p, to 325.4p, although it is still 26 per cent off its float price.
High Street stalwart Debenhams, which has seen its shares become near-worthless this year, recovered some losses as Jefferies retained its ‘hold’ recommendation. The retailer climbed by 14.3 per cent, or 0.6p, to 4.87p.
Industrial printing company Xaar, however, was suffering a Christmas hangover.
It warned that business in the three months to December ‘continued at levels below our expectation’, and revenue in the second half would only be slightly better than the first.
Revenue for the full year would be around £64million, it said, down from £100million in 2017. Shares tumbled by 8 per cent, or 12.8p, to 146.4p.
Building materials firm Low And Bonar has not yet felt the benefits of improving investor sentiment.
It warned of tough trading conditions this month and threatened to slash its dividend, and fell 11 per cent, or 1.73p, to 13.95p. It has now sunk 74.5 per cent over the year so far.