The FTSE 100 rallied as the number of new coronavirus cases in China slowed, while travel group TUI soared on strong January bookings
The FTSE 100 has followed global stock markets higher as the number of new coronavirus cases in China slowed, while travel group TUI (TUI) soared on strong January bookings.
The UK blue-chip index jumped 59 points, or 0.8%, to 7,506 after global stock markets, including the US and Asia closed higher overnight, despite the death toll from coronavirus rising above 1,000 and the number of infected people pushing past 40,000.
Professor Gabriel Leung, head of public health at Hong Kong University, warned the flu-like virus ‘could infect 60%’ of the world’s population but markets were buoyed by a slowing infection rate and the assumption that central banks would step in if markets come under pressure.
‘The rate of new cases is slowing, which is the most important thing,’ said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
‘Following the selling since the virus hit the headlines it’s now about the pace of acceleration or deceleration in the rate of new cases, as well as the longevity of the economic impact.’
The FTSE 100 gained a further boost from soaring Tui shares, which rallied 11.8%, or 101p, to 957p. Despite the travel agent being affected by the sell-off in travel and leisure stocks caused by the coronavirus outbreak, it reported its best ever January for booking as it benefited from the collapse of Thomas Cook.
The FTSE 250 ‘mid-cap’ index followed the main market up, gaining 0.4%, or 95 points, to trade at 21,588.
William Hill (WMH) was the biggest riser, up 4% at 185p per share, after announcing a deal with the CBS TV network in the US. Jefferies analyst James Wheatcroft said it was ‘a major step forward’ for the bookmaker in the US market.
On the small cap index construction group Kier (KIE) continued to rally on yesterday’s government green light to the HS2 high speed rail project, rising 9.6%, or 10p, to 115p.
The pound nudged higher against the dollar to $1.293 after the Office for National Statistics reported UK growth of 1.1% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, ahead of expectations of 0.8% and in line with third quarter growth.