UPDATE 2-Banks, mining stocks lift UK shares as lockdown begins to ease

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-Banks, mining stocks lift UK shares as lockdown begins to ease
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* British schools reopen

* Senior rises despite annual loss

* Pearson among top gainers on new boss's growth plans

* FTSE 100 up 1.3%, FTSE 250 adds 1.2% (Updates to close)

By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S

March 8 (Reuters) - British stocks ended higher on Monday, led by gains in banks and mining stocks as optimism around a swifter economic recovery and the easing of a stringent lockdown lifted spirits.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE ended up 1.3%, with bank stocks, HSBC Holdings HSBA.L , Lloyds Banking group LLOY.L , and Barclays Plc BARC.L , gaining between 3.6% and 4.3%.

Mining stocks including Rio Tinto RIO.L , Glencore GLEN.L and Anglo American (JO: AMSJ ) AAL.L also boosted the index on stronger metal prices. MET/L

"The market is following the optimism from the first day of lockdown easing, as well a bit of good news from the U.S. stimulus ... the virus is under control, lockdown coming to an end and Brexit pretty much done and dusted," said Michael Baker, analyst at ETX Capital.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC rose 1.2%, with industrials and consumer discretionary stocks supporting the index.

The FTSE 100 and the mid-cap index have recovered more than 36% and 70%, respectively, from a coronavirus-driven crash last year on hopes of a swift economic recovery this year.

Last week, Britain's finance minister, Rishi Sunak, announced support for businesses, while on Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill.

The reopening of England's schools to all pupils on Monday marks one of the first steps towards scaling back virus-led lockdowns in the country, as a vaccination campaign gains steam. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey painted a cautiously optimistic picture of Britain's economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and did not expect a big jump in inflation. individual movers, Pearson PSON.L was among the top performers on the FTSE 100, as the education group's new boss set out his plan for the company to grow beyond schools and colleges. Plc SNR.L rose 7.2%, even as the British aircraft parts supplier swung to an annual loss, hit by COVID-19-related disruptions to flight travel and Boeing (NYSE: BA )'s BA.N 737 MAX crisis.

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