The UK’s major shares opened on the up on Friday led by gains in heavyweight banking and commodity stocks, while investors awaited key US inflation data that has kept them on edge this week.

The benchmark FTSE 100 rallied 0.3% in early deals to 7,041.55, gains that didn’t quite match those seen on Asian markets overnight as they welcomed the strong economic recovery in the US.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped more than 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 184 points as Asian investors reacted to US jobless claims that fell to the lowest level since March last year. News that the annualised rate of growth of the world’s largest economy was 6.4% also helped to change the market’s mood music to stimulus from inflationary fears as we head into the bank holiday weekend in the UK.

A report that the Biden administration is seeking $6 trillion in federal spending for 2022 added to the positive backcloth, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average 142 points higher to 34,465 while the S&P closed in on another record high, rising 5 points to 4,201.

The strong Asian performance helped HSBC (HSBA) rally 2.5% to 461.1p, among the biggest FTSE 100 winners, while miners and oil majors BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) also supported the index.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index advanced 0.2% to 22,701.55.

AstraZeneca (AZN) fell more than 1% to £80.09 even after the European Commission approved its Tagrisso drug to treat patients with a type of early-stage lung cancer.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

On a typically quiet Friday for corporate news, Irn-bru maker AG Barr (BAG) nudged 0.75% lower to 526p after it said it had made a strong start to the new fiscal year, and the easing of lockdown restrictions have boosted its sales, with return of demand from hospitality and leisure sectors.

Fulham Shore (FUL:AIM) said it has been encouraged by trading since its restaurants reopened for indoor dining, sending its share price nearly 5% higher to 16p.

The restaurateur, which operates the Franco Manca and The Real Greek chains, said that in the period from May 17 – 23, like-for-like sales were down 8% on the corresponding period of 2019, i.e. pre-pandemic.

Golden Saint Technologies (GST:AIM) was an early riser on Friday, jumping 14% to 1.65p after signing a collaboration agreement with Singaporean blockchain payment solution provider Wise MPay.

Care-based housing and healthcare investor Civitas Social Housing (CSH) said it had completed the acquisition of 10 supported living properties across Hertfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Wales for £8.6 million.

The properties are leased to Inclusion Housing Community Interest company, with rents adjusted annually in line with CPI over the full-term and are subject to a lower limit of inflation of 0% per annum and a maximum indexation of 4% per annum.

Civitas Social Housing’s share price remained at £11.76.

Susanne Given will step down as non-executive director of Tritax Big Box REIT (BBOX) with effect from 14 September 2021 in order to focus on her other business commitments. The share price stayed largely flat at 197.24p.

A selection process for an additional non-executive director is currently underway and the company said it will update the market in due course.

The Edinburgh Investment Trust (EDIN) declared a special dividend after reporting a net asset value returns that topped its benchmark as markets rebounded.

For the year to 31 March 2021 net asset value on a total return basis was 34.8% up, compared with a total return of 26.7% for the FTSE All-Share Index, the trust’s benchmark.

Edinburgh Investment Trust’s share price rose 0.11% to £6.32.

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Issue Date: 28 May 2021