‘Santa Gathering’ Sees FTSE 100 Reaches Highest Level in 22 Months Thanks to Omicron Optimism | Stock markets

The UK’s benchmark stock index hit a 22-month high on Friday, approaching levels seen in February 2020 just before stock markets around the world were rushed by the first European foreclosure.

The FTSE 100 hit an intra-day high of 7,403.65 points – surpassing the previous high after the lockdown it hit last month – before falling one point down to close in a loss on Christmas Eve.

London Stock Exchange traders put down their tools at 12:30 p.m. Friday to mark Christmas Eve, while exchanges in much of Europe were closed.

Markets have been boosted in recent days by data suggesting that the latest worrying variant, Omicron, is not as bad as previously thought. British Airways owner International Airlines Group was among the biggest winners, up 1.9%, while the Intercontinental hotel group also edged up 1.2% – both are particularly susceptible to pandemic restrictions.

Cautious optimism around Omicron has helped the FTSE 100 gain 4.4% so far in December. It would be its best month since November 2020, when news of Pfizer’s first successful vaccine sparked a global rally.

The morning rally left the FTSE just ahead of its closing point on Friday February 21, 2020 of 7,403.92 – the day Italy imposed a lockdown in the Lombardy and Padua regions, causing markets around the world to plummet whole when they reopen the following Monday. The value of the FTSE 100 companies fell by £ 62 billion that day.

Investors expect a ‘Santa Claus rally’ in the markets at the end of the year, as low volumes combine with other factors that may include portfolio adjustments at the end of the year. The S&P 500, Wall Street’s benchmark, appeared to capture that mood with a new record high on Thursday, although positive sentiment waned on the FTSE 100 on Friday.

Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at ThinkMarkets, an investment website, said markets rallied last week on optimism over Omicron. It is estimated that people with the variant are between 31% and 45% less likely to present for A&E compared to the Delta variant, and 50% to 70% less likely to need hospitalization, reported Thursday. the British Health Safety Agency.

Razaqzada said: “Judging by the stock rally this week, it seems investors are still confident that the ongoing recovery from the pandemic recession can outlast the Omicron wave.”

Chris Beauchamp, analyst at IG, a trading platform, said: “The FTSE 100 hasn’t had such a stellar year as some, but the rally to 7,400 today puts it in a good position for the year to come, and means a race to pre-pandemic highs could still be possible if Omicron’s problems can be brought under control and profits continue to recover as they have throughout 2021. “

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