FTSE 100 bounces on energy boost, outpaces European peers in April

By Shristi Achar A and Johann M Cherian



FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain


© Thomson Reuters
FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain

(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 ended Friday on firmer ground, boosted by gains in energy stocks, but lender Natwest held back further advances after reporting a steep drop in first-quarter deposits.

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The blue-chip index ended up 0.5%, but was down for the week, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 closed 0.9% higher and ended the week up by 0.8%

Both the FTSE indexes ended the month higher, outperforming the broader European STOXX 600 index.

The FTSE 100 rose 3.1% in April and the domestically-focused FTSE 250 closed 2.6% higher, as investors returned to markets following March’s sharp selloff.

NatWest reported a beat in quarterly earnings but said that deposits fell by around 20 billion pounds ($25.15 billion), sending its shares down 3.7% to a more than one-month low.

The broader banking sector lost 0.8%.

“A drop in customer deposits, while nothing like on the scale seen at other crisis-ridden banks, has helped put the wind up investors in NatWest,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

“NatWest has to work hard to earn the trust of the market and updates like today’s do not help.”

Oil and gas stocks added 2.1% and were the biggest boost to the commodity heavy FTSE 100.

Top sectoral gainers included defensives such as healthcare, and energy stocks. Miners were among top losers this month as the outlook for precious and base metals looked weak amid recession woes.

Prudential advanced 4.2% after posting a 30% jump in new business profit aided by diversification of its services in Asia and Africa.

Pearson rose 3.8% after the education group said it was on track to meet its annual guidance.

Numis Corp surged 67.2% and clocked its best day ever after Deutsche Bank said it would buy the institutional stockbroker and corporate adviser for about 410 million pounds.

Meanwhile, British businesses were their most optimistic in nearly a year in April, boosted by growing hopes about the economy, according to a Lloyds Bank survey.

($1 = 0.7953 pounds)

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(Reporting by Shristi Achar A and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema, Nivedita Bhattahacharjee and Sharon Singleton)