FTSE 100 extends rally as oil majors gain, Ocado hits life high

March 19
15:04 2019

(Reuters) – Britain’s FTSE 100 continued its winning streak as oil majors and miners boosted the index and Ocado climbed to a life high after posting higher first-quarter retail sales.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.5 percent, holding on to its five-month high from the previous session, and the FTSE 250 was roughly flat by 0842 GMT.

Heavyweight oil majors helped lift the main index as supply cuts by OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela buttressed prices. [O/R]

Chilean copper miner Antofagasta advanced 3.5 percent and was the top gainer on the main bourse as a higher-than-expected dividend payout overshadowed a drop in annual core earnings.

Online supermarket Ocado, which announced a retail JV with Marks & Spencer last month, added 2.6 percent to hit an all time high after posting a double-digit jump in first-quarter retail sales despite growth being hit by last month’s fire at a large distribution centre.

Drugmaker Hikma was 2.6 percent higher after a rating upgrade from Citi and positive comments on growth prospects from Jefferies.

Investors also kept tabs on the two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting which begins on Tuesday and on Brexit uncertainty after Britain’s parliament speaker struck a fresh blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal, which led sterling lower and hit the domestically-focused FTSE 250.

Mid-cap iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo skidded 9 percent after a review of its donations to a charity set up by the company identified additional discrepancies, forcing it to delay the release of its 2018 results.

However, IT firm Softcat jumped 6.7 percent as it added more customers and said its annual results would be marginally ahead of expectations.

AIM-listed online retailer ASOS slipped 5.8 percent after flagging struggles at its new warehouse in Atlanta in the second quarter, resulting in a dip in U.S. sales.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir)

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