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* China exports rise for the first time in 2020
* Lenders gain after upbeat BoE stress test
* Rolls Royce slides on reports of job cuts
* Insurer RSA jumps on flagging small coronavirus hit
* FTSE 100 up 0.3%, FTSE 250 adds 0.8% (Adds comments; updates prices)
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
May 7 (Reuters) – UK stock markets inched higher on Thursday, with investors looking past dismal quarterly earnings reports and hoping for a faster recovery from a deep coronavirus-led recession following a surprise rise in China’s exports.
The export-laden FTSE 100 climbed 0.3% and the mid-cap FTSE 250 added 0.8%, as China’s exports rose in April for the first time this year with factories racing to make up for lost sales due to the coronavirus shock. , tracking a jump in commodity prices, were the top boost to the FTSE 100, while financials gained as a “desk top” stress test by the Bank of England showed top lenders can withstand the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. MET/L
“All traders know that the pandemic and the lockdown have basically frozen the economy, but (sentiment will pick up) as long as they see some sign that things are improving,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC (NS:) Markets in London.
“Europe and the United States are slightly easing their lockdowns and the hope is that in two months time, we might be in a position where China is.”
Historic global stimulus and signs of a plateau in the outbreak powered the FTSE 100 in April, but the index has struggled to build on those gains this month as economic data foreshadows the biggest UK economic slump in 300 years.
Latest surveys showed Britain’s job market came to a dead stop in April, while another report said activity in the country’s housing market had stalled during a nationwide lockdown. Minister Boris Johnson, who has so far resisted easing the lockdown as the UK overtook Italy as the country with the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe, is due to set out details of a plan to reopen the economy on Sunday. lifting of restrictions could take a while longer,” said Edward Moya senior market analyst at OANDA.
“Johnson wants the economy to stabilize and lifting the lockdown will get the ball rolling, (but) the problem for him is that the UK is the hardest hit country in Europe and they are still not near their peak.”
In further signs of the business hit from the health crisis, aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce fell 4.3% after reports that it was considering cutting up to 8,000 jobs to weather the global aerospace sector slump. biggest telecoms group BT tumbled 8.6% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 as it suspended its dividend until 2021-22 and pulled its financial outlook. a bright spot, insurer RSA jumped 5% after it estimated its exposure to the outbreak at just 25 million pounds ($31 million) and said most of its business interruption policies did not offer cover. in the day, the Bank of England held off from launching further stimulus measures, as expected, but said it was ready to take action to counter the coronavirus hit to the economy.