By Shivani Kumaresan
(Reuters) – British shares inched higher on Tuesday, supported by gains in HSBC and drugmakers, at a time when tighter coronavirus restrictions have raised concerns about the pace of an economic recovery.
The FTSE 100 index was up 0.3% after two consecutive sessions of declines, with HSBC Holdings, up 2.5%, giving the biggest boost to the blue-chip index.
“HSBC is up on Asian growth. UK investors could play on the what the growth is like in China,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
“We are dealing with a market that is shuffling the cards at the moment in a sense that they had a big run over the last three months and is looking for direction.”
The FTSE 100 tumbled 14.3% in 2020, its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis and underperforming its European peers by a wide margin, as pandemic-driven lockdowns battered the economy and led to mass layoffs.
British firms called for another 7.6 billion pounds ($10.3 billion) of emergency government help, saying they cannot wait until finance minister Rishi Sunak’s March budget to learn if they will get more pandemic support.
The mid-cap index gained 0.2%, with travel stocks easyJet and Wizz Air Holdings being the top boosts.
Shares of Experian Plc, the world’s largest credit data firm, gained 1.2% after its third-quarter revenue growth exceeded targets, helped by strong U.S. mortgage volumes.
OXO cube maker Premier Foods fell 4.6% despite a 90% jump in the third-quarter online sales, while British fashion group Superdry lost 12.9% after reporting a big drop in sales in the Christmas quarter.
(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)