By Barbara Kollmeyer
A major disruption to global shipping had a silver lining for London stocks on Friday, as oil prices climbed, driving up shares of heavily weighted BP and Shell, with mining companies also on the rise.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.85% rose 0.6% to 6,715.70, while the FTSE 250 /zigman2/quotes/210598417/delayed UK:MCX +0.91% gained 0.9% and the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.1453% gained 0.3% against the dollar. West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude prices each rose more than 2%, as the massive container ship Ever Given remained stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking traffic on either side.
It is also a key waterway for energy shipments, and prices of crude and Brent futures climbed over 2% on Friday. While the price reaction has been seen as short-term, officials in Egypt say disruptions could stretch on for several days. Shares of major oil companies BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP +0.04% /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP +0.04% and Shell /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A -0.58% /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA +0.04% climbed 3.6% and 2.8%, respectively.
Commodity-related stocks were also rising on optimism over the global economy, as the U.S. vaccination campaign picks up and the U.K. government’s plan to gradually ease the lockdown over the next three months was approved in Parliament on Thursday. Shares of miner Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.84% /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +1.37% climbed 3.7%.
Data showed U.K. retail sales jumped 2.1% in February , boosted by spending on household goods and home-improvement supplies.
And stocks geared toward a reopening also got a boost, with shares of movie-theater operator Cineworld /zigman2/quotes/206525056/delayed UK:CINE -1.80% climbing 8%, while those of rail and coach ticketing app Trainline /zigman2/quotes/212885666/delayed UK:TRN -0.65% and airline easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +0.39% rose over 3% each.
Smiths Group /zigman2/quotes/208640940/delayed UK:SMIN +1.53% was a standout gainer, up 7% after the engineering company nearly doubled pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2021 and said it was confident about meeting full-year forecasts.