Berkeley, Diageo and Whitbread cheer FTSE 100 towards pre-pandemic threshold

Graeme Evans
·2-min read

The shares revival driving the FTSE 100 index back towards the 7,000 threshold continued at pace today as investors piled into housebuilding and consumer-focused stocks.

Beneficiaries from the latest wave of global economic optimism included the top-flight building stock Berkeley Group and Smirnoff drinks giant Diageo, which rallied 2% to its highest level since before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move by the FTSE 100 index to the cusp of the 7,000 level for the first time in 14 months came as market sentiment was lifted by bumper profits figures from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs at the start of the first quarter earnings season in the US.

London’s FTSE 100 stood 41.90 points higher at 6,981.48, with Premier Inn owner Whitbread among the other top performing blue-chip stocks after SocGen analysts removed their “sell” recommendation and upped the bank’s price target to 3,888p.

Whitbread’s shares were lifted another 28p to 3,573p, meaning a rise of more than 70% since late October as the company looks well placed ahead of a staycation summer.

A broker upgrade and the read-across from a strong update by Wickes owner Travis Perkins also benefited shares in B&Q owner Kingfisher, which climbed 10.6p to 350.5p. B&M European Value Retail was another doing well in the top flight, 14.2p higher at 554p.

The re-opening trade and improved global appeal of UK shares following the removal of Brexit uncertainty meant the FTSE 250 index reached another record, climbing another 76.22 points to 22,431.67.

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson rose 2% or 9.4p to 424p while Games Workshop rallied 230p to 10,750p on the back of positive updates elsewhere in the retail sector. The fantasy war games business is worth £3.5 billion, some £500 million more than Marks & Spencer.

Elsewhere, the price of bitcoin fell back by 1% to $62,775 after a rollercoaster debut session for cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Wall Street.

The business was briefly valued at over $100 billion but shares fell back from their peak of $429 to eventually close at $328. Excitement ahead of the flotation has helped bitcoin reach fresh records in recent sessions.

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