By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
London stocks tracked a rally for global equities on Friday, as a potential treatment for the COVID-19 disease cheered investors at the end of a week that is set to finish with a loss for the FTSE 100 while governments also began announcing ways to reopen economies.
The index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -1.20% rose 2.7% to 5,782.63, and poised to end the week down 1%. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.2002% rose 0.3% to $1.25040. That’s as the Dow industrials surged over 2% and the Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.26% gained 1.6%.
Investors seized on a report that researchers at University of Chicago Medicine saw “rapid recoveries” in 125 COVID-19 patients taking Gilead’s /zigman2/quotes/210293917/composite GILD -1.38% experimental drug remdesivir as part of a clinical trial. Also inspiring a plan to reopen the U.S. economy by President Donald Trump, though a date wasn’t specified.
Major oil companies and metals stocks gained as well, with shares of Royal Dutch Shell Group /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A +0.13% /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA -0.99% rising over 3%. Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -1.18% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +1.78% shares rose over 3%.
China first quarter growth slid 6.8%, from the weight of a shutdown as the country was at the epicenter of the initial coronavirus outbreak late last year. The data was slightly better than expected, though some warned China’s slow economic progress could be a blueprint for post—Covid recoveries elsewhere.
Away from the main index, investment firm Brewin Dolphin Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/208775239/delayed UK:BRW 0.00% soared 16% after a trading update, where analysts outpointed the positives. Analysts at Liberum said the group delivered 400 million pounds of discretionary net flows, better than expected and a growth rate of 3.8% on an annualized basis.
“One of the key drivers of this performance was the continued demand for the group’s advice-led service, which in our view not only provides it with a more compelling proposition for its clients, but also a more defensive source of earnings,” said a team of analysts led by Rahim Karim.
Shares of Flutter Entertainment Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206709455/delayed IE:FLTR -2.55% jumped 14% after the owner of Paddy Power Betfair’s trading update showed an expected slump in sports betting revenue balanced out by a surge in online gambling.
“The near-50% decline in sports-related revenue actually feels like something of a result given the cancellation of nearly all live sport. It suggests punters might not be too discriminating in the events they bet on with horse racing continuing in the U.S. and Australia,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, in a note to clients.