London’s FTSE 100 was back above the 7,000 level for the first time since February 2020 on Friday as investors cheered signs that the global recovery remains on track following data showing China’s economy grew at record pace in the first quarter.

By 8.45 am, the blue chip benchmark was up 32.3 points or 0.46% at 7,015.75, representing a massive milestone in recovering from the terrible pandemic and showing how investors’ confidence has completely changed since just over a year ago.

FTSE 100 miners and oil producers were in demand after China reported year-on-year GDP growth of 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021, giving investors greater optimism in terms of the outlook for global growth.

OCADO RIPENS ON AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE TIE-UP

In corporate news, online grocery platform provider Ocado (OCDO) ripened 1.1% to £21.65 on news it has taken a £10 million stake in Oxford-based autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica.

Ocado said it is ‘excited about the opportunity to work with Oxbotica to develop a wide range of autonomous solutions that truly have the potential to transform both our and our partners’ CFC and service delivery operations’, while also ‘giving all end customers the widest range of options and flexibility’.

Fund manager Man Group (EMG) was marked up 1% to 166.9p early on following a solid first quarter update, with the company reporting group assets under management of $127 billion at the end of March, up 2.8% in the three months since end-December.

Man Group said ‘client engagement on a number of large mandates has been positive this year, and as a result we expect to see increased inflows in the coming quarters’, which suggests it has a very healthy pipeline for new business.

ASHMORE ADVANCES

Also in demand was emerging-market fixed-income focused fund manager Ashmore (ASHM), which advanced 2% to 426.4p on a third quarter update which showed a weak absolute performance due to the poor performance of bond markets.

Yet investors focused on positive net flows of $1.5 billion, breaking the sequence of four consecutive negative quarters.

IN OTHER NEWS

Digital transformation and platforms specialist Kainos (KNOS) cheapened 5.5% to £16.04, reflecting profit-taking following a strong share price run.

A positive update for the year to March 2021 confirmed that trading in the period has continued to be robust and at the upper end of upgraded consensus forecasts.

Elsewhere, Essentra (ESNT) edged up 1.3% to 303p as the essential components and solutions company flagged up an encouraging start to the year with first quarter like-for-like revenue growing 1.4%, in line with expectations and its components business returning to growth.

Liquid biopsy business ANGLE (AGL:AIM) improved 5.7% to 88p on news it has won its first pharma services contract worth $1.2 million over 18 months and said there is scope for further contracts from the same customer.

And mobile phone-to-gaming consoles recycler and reseller MusicMagpie said it is swooping towards a flotation on AIM that will value the ‘recommerce’ site at £208 million as the IPO market boom in London continues.

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Issue Date: 16 Apr 2021