Renewed hopes for a US relief package buoyed markets today, putting Wall Street on track for its best weekly performance since July.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both bounced after markets opened on Friday, following claims that Donald Trump had approved a stimulus package. Earlier in the week, he had suggested any further Covid support package would need to wait until after the presidential election, but in recent days, Mr Trump has reportedly become concerned at the stock market reaction to his comments, made on Twitter.
Wall Street led gains across global indices, and the FTSE 100 closed up 0.65pc on Friday.
Among the biggest risers on the blue-chip index was Rolls-Royce, which saw its shares climb for the fifth day in a row, in what analysts termed a “meteoric bounce”.
The company’s shares hit more than double Monday’s opening price on Friday, in what was its strongest weekly growth since it listed almost 30 years ago. Rolls-Royce closed 27.9p higher at 223.2p.
It came after the blue-chip company unveiled a £5bn rescue – including a £2bn equity raise – to shore up its balance sheet. Broker Berenberg said the group still looked attractive to buy, but noted that its recapitalisation plan looked “painful for shareholders”.
Despite the recent gains, Rolls-Royce remains down some 66pc this year.
Commercial landlord Land Securities was also one of the biggest risers on the FTSE 100 today, amid signs of life in London’s office market. Numis said there was significant investor interest in sites.
The company ended up 12p at 563.6p, after it said it had collected 62pc of the £110m of rent due from its tenants in September within five days – compared to 95pc for the equivalent period last year.
There were also big movers among the mid and small-caps on Friday, with waste collector Biffa climbing 6.5p to 234p, its highest point since June, after it bought Simply Waste Solutions.
Unilever ended up 34p at £48.47 after a Dutch legal body criticised plans for an “exit tax” on the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant if it went ahead with proposals to shift to a single London headquarters. The Dutch Council of State advised the government that the chance the proposed €11bn (£10bn) tax was not legally sustainable was so great that “we consider introducing it irresponsible”. British investors vote on the move on Monday.
Meanwhile, Marston’s ended the week on a high. Its shares surged by a fifth, or 8.6p, to 50.1p, after the UK’s competition watchdog said a £780m merger between Marston’s and Carlsberg could go ahead.
The CMA’s decision is expected to help Marston’s reduce its debt, which had been seen as an issue even before the pandemic.
At the other end, logistics firm Wincanton’s decision to sell its container business did not go down as well. Its shares slipped 10p to 216p.
Airline operators, however, were among the biggest fallers, with IAG and easyJet weighing down the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 respectively. Both continue to face pain, as the pandemic limits travel. The BA owner closed down 4p at 103.5p, while easyJet ended the day 22.6p lower at 512.6p.