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Reopening hopes spur FTSE 250 to new record

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
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WATCH: Optimism about reopening boost European markets

The FTSE 250 (^FTMC) closed at a record high on Thursday thanks to optimism around Britain's ongoing reopening.

The index, which is largely made up of UK-focused businesses, closed up 0.5% at 22,472.04. It marked the index's highest ever close and was just shy of the intraday high of 22,472.45 reached earlier in the session.

The rally came as new data on the UK jobs market fuelled optimism about the ongoing economic reopening. New figures showed a 70% jump in finance job posting in London. Data from the UK's Office for National Statistics showed UK-wide job postings had returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

READ MORE: UK job adverts surge back to pre-pandemic level

"After a positive start to earnings season yesterday equities have continued their push higher, shrugging off a sudden drop in the second half of the US session yesterday," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

"Employment numbers out of Australia overnight provided further proof of the ability of economies to bounce back once Covid is under control, and with UK job vacancies also recovering there are firm indications that the theme of global reopening is still valid."

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rallied to a 14-month high, closing up 0.6%. GlaxoSmithKline rose 4.5% after reports that activist hedge fund Elliott Management had built a significant stake in the business.

The FTSE 100 climbed to levels not seen since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK
The FTSE 100 climbed to levels not seen since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

The German DAX (^GDAXI) closed up 0.3% and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in France rose 0.4%.

Momentum was helped by a strong opening on Wall Street. The S&P 500 (^GSPC), Dow (^DJI) and Nasdaq (^IXIC) were all up 0.9% by the time Europe closed.

"Records have been breaking all over US and UK financial markets today," said Danni Hewson, a financial analyst at stockbroker AJ Bell. "Buoyed by higher than expected retail sales last month and lower than expected jobless claims over the last week, the Dow Jones topped 34,000 points for the first time. 

"Stocks soared as markets took in quarterly results from Bank of America and Fund manager BlackRock, both estimate busting and adding to expectation that this will be a bumper crop of earnings."

READ MORE: GSK shares jump after activist hedge fund builds big stake

US retail sales data smashed expectations with a rise of 9.8% in March. ING put the spending surge down to "a combination of better weather, strong jobs growth and another wave of stimulus payments". Initial jobless claims dropped to a pandemic-era low of 576,000.

Coinbase's (COIN) stock market debut remained one of the main story on Wall Street. The cryptocurrency company joined the Nasdaq via a direct listing on Wednesday and shares initially surged. The business was at one point valued at $100bn (£72.4bn) but ended the day worth $86bn as shares fell back to 14% below the opening price. Coinbase's remained well above the $250 a share reference price set in the listing.

LONDON, April 12, 2021 -- People walk in Covent Garden in London, Britain, April 12, 2021.
  In England, all shops are reopening from Monday along with hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services.
  Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors. Meanwhile, gyms, spas, zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centers can all open. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Ray Tang via Getty Images)
People walk in Covent Garden in London, Britain, April 12, 2021. Photo: Xinhua/Ray Tang via Getty Images

"A lively listing from Coinbase turned another grind higher into a small risk-off session later in US trading," said Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid and his team.

Shares in Coinbase rose as much as 10% in the pre-market on Thursday as investors reacted to news that highly regarded money manager Catherine Woods' Ark Invest had put $250m into the company. The stock was 1.7% higher shortly after the open in New York.

Chinese stocks sold-off overnight. The Hang Seng (^HSI) fell 0.6% in Hong Kong, the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) dropped 0.6%, and the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) lost 0.5%.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei (^N225) inched 0.1% higher in Japan and South Korea's KOSPI (^KS11) rallied 0.4%.

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