U.K. stocks on Thursday logged the best one-session gain in nearly two years as investors grew hopeful that negotiations would lead the U.S. and China to de-escalate brewing trade tensions. The FTSE 100 index rose 2.4% to 7,199.50, marking its best daily advance since June 29, 2016, a rally that occurred in the aftermath of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, known as Brexit. The benchmark now stands at its highest level since March 12, according to WSJ Market Data Group. On Wednesday, the London blue-
chip benchmark finished around the break-even mark. On Wall Street, U.S. stocks staged a rally, adding to gains from Wednesday’s powerful turnaround. The pound traded at $1.4042, falling after the release of downbeat data on services activity, compared with $1.4079 late Wednesday in New York. The edge seemed to be coming off global trade-war worries, as investors assessed the potential for the U.S. and China to step back from their tariff plans in negotiations over the next six months. Trade hostilities between the world’s two biggest economies, and the likely fallout in corporate damage, have weighed on global stock markets recently. Those hopes for a trade truce boosted U.S. stocks late Wednesday, helping the Dow Jones Industrial Average pull back from an intraday loss of 510 points to close higher. Asia stocks followed suit to end with gains. Mining stocks in London were getting a lift from that optimism, as the industry is sensitive to developments in China, a big buyer of industrial and precious metals. Copper for May delivery rose 6 cents, or 2.1%, to $3.074 a pound on Thursday. British services activity was hit by weak consumer demand and heavy snowfall in March, a survey by IHS Markit/CIPS indicated. Its services purchasing managers index fell to 21.7 for the month, the lowest since the July 2016 reading after the Brexit referendum, compared with 54.5 in February. U.K. car sales fell 15.7% in March compared with a year ago, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades reported. That means sales have fallen for 12 consecutive months, due in part to bans in
some cities on diesel vehicles, according to the SMMT.
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