UPDATE 2-London stocks end the week lower despite strong economic data

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-London stocks end the week lower despite strong economic data
Credit: © Reuters.

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* UK PMIs hit highest since Nov. 2013

* FirstGroup jumps on $4.6 billion sale of two U.S. units

* Mid-cap stocks snap four week winning streak

* FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 end flat (Updates to close)

By Devik Jain and Medha Singh

April 23 (Reuters) - London's blue-chip stocks were little changed on Friday but finished the week lower as growing concerns over a surge in global coronavirus cases eclipsed optimism from recent data pointing to a rapid UK economic rebound.

The exporter-heavy index .FTSE ended the session flat, with a fall in heavyweight energy shares and large dollar earning companies including Diageo DGE.L , AstraZeneca AZN.L and Reckitt Benckiser Group RKT.L weighing on the index.

Sectors tied to economic outlook, including miners .FTNMX551020 and banks .FTNMX301010 and travel and leisure .FTNMX405010 outperformed during the session.

Latest data showed a deluge of new orders swept through British businesses in April as the country lifted some COVID-19 restrictions. report comes on the heels of a survey showing consumer sentiment touching a 13-month high this month, and a report showing retail sales soared past expectations in March. this week's data – from PMIs to retail sales – suggests that the hit to first quarter GDP from the recent lockdowns has been milder than first thought, but also that we should be bracing for a strong, circa 5% bounce in economic activity during the second quarter," economists at ING wrote in a note.

The FTSE 100 has gained 7.4% so far this year on optimism that speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and constant policy support from the government would drive a stronger economic recovery.

However, it is set for its biggest weekly decline since the end of February as a recent spike in cases in parts of Asia has stoked fears of delayed global economic recovery.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC posted its first weekly drop in five.

Transport operator FirstGroup's shares FGP.L gained 4.4% after the company agreed to sell two North American bus businesses to EQT Infrastructure for $4.6 billion, including debt.

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