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Consumer staples, industrial stocks boost FTSE 100; delayed reopening cap gains

Consumer staples, industrial stocks boost FTSE 100; delayed reopening cap gains

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 equity index edged higher on Tuesday, lifted by gains in consumer staples and industrial stocks, although a delay in lifting of remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England curbed sentiment across the overall market.

The blue-chip index rose 0.3%, with large dollar earning companies including Diageo, Unilever and British American Tobacco providing the biggest boost.

Industrials, aero and defence stocks also climbed, with aero-engine maker Rolls Royce among the biggest gainers with a 2.2% rise.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index advanced 0.3%. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back plans of lifting most remaining COVID-19 restrictions to July 19, citing the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.

There was good news however on the jobs front, as the number of employees on British company payrolls surged by a record 197,000 in May as COVID-19 restrictions eased, tax data showed.

Headline unemployment rate for the three months to April also fell to 4.7%, its lowest since August and kept down by the government’s furlough programme.

“Unemployment is heading in the right direction … it’s important to recognise that the reopening of the economy naturally brings with it an element of growth from a very low base,” said Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell.

Khalaf added however that the decision to postpone the end of lockdown restrictions “serves as a reminder that the pandemic still has the capacity to derail the best laid plans”.

The FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 have gained more than 11% this year but they have oscillated in a narrow range since mid-April on worries that a COVID-19 resurgence might crimp the recovery.

Among stocks, BATM Advanced Communications climbed 3.4% after it received a $4.1 million cyber security contract.

However, Non-Standard Finance slipped 9.5% as the subprime lender plans to raise around 80 million pounds ($112.98 million) in the third quarter potentially through a share sale.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru)

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