UK stocks rise on trade relief, Thomas Cook surges on buyout talks


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(Reuters) – London’s main index gained on Monday as a U.S.-Mexico deal to avert proposed tariffs lifted global markets, while top UK tour operator Thomas Cook surged on a potential sale of its main business to Chinese shareholder Fosun Tourism.

FILE PHOTO: Traders looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The FTSE 100 gained 0.6% by 0748 GMT, hitting its highest level in more than a month as investors cheered the agreement between the United States and its southern neighbour. The mid-cap FTSE 250 rose 0.3%.

Gains were spread largely across the board in London, with heavyweight financial stocks, miners and oil shares all boosting the FTSE 100 and putting it on course for its sixth straight day of gains.

The market also took hope from increased chances of a Federal Reserve interest rate cut to stimulate the economy after weak U.S. jobs growth data on Friday.

Analysts, however, downplayed expectations of a rate cut.

“To suggest that (the U.S. jobs data) makes a September rate cut more likely is stretching things a touch,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said. Markets.com’s Neil Wilson called hopes of near-term rate cuts “overly optimistic”.

Thomas Cook, which has put its tour operating business up for sale in the aftermath of three profit warnings in the past year, surged 18.8% after it said it was in talks with Fosun, the company’s largest shareholder.

Online grocer Ocado added 2.7% after announcing a 17 million pound investment in the newly emerging vertical farming industry.

Plumbing products distributor Ferguson lost 4.1% after the company’s third-quarter revenue missed analysts’ expectations.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust, a fund run by money manger Neil Woodford, tumbled another 5%, despite reassuring investors that the suspension of a flagship equity fund had not affected its “operational performance”.

The FTSE 250-listed fund has lost nearly a quarter of its value this month. Hargreaves Lansdown, the blue-chip fund supermarket which had been a major backer of Woodford’s suspended fund, gave up 2%.

Small-cap MJ Gleeson tumbled almost 11%, on track for its worst day since June 2016, after the low-cost housebuilder said its chief executive officer would leave after “extensive” discussions regarding remuneration and succession planning.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty