UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 ends fifth day higher on earnings boost

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 ends fifth day higher on earnings boost
Credit: © Reuters.

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* Vodafone jumps after keeping dividend

* Morrisons rises as sales get boost from lockdown

* Property developer Land Securities slumps on annual pretax loss

* FTSE 100 up 0.9%, FTSE 250 down 0.6% (Adds comments, updates to close)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

May 12 (Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 closed higher for the fifth straight session on Tuesday after strong earnings from Vodafone and Morrisons helped outweigh fears of a potential flare-up of COVID-19 cases as countries slowly reopen parts of their economies.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 0.9% at the closing bell, with Vodafone VOD.L , the world's second largest mobile operator, jumping 8.7% to the top of the index after it maintained its dividend, bucking a corporate trend to cut or scrap payouts, and met full-year profit expectations. group Morrisons MRW.L added 3.4% after reporting a boost to sales in its latest quarter from the coronavirus lockdown, and said costs related to the pandemic should be broadly offset by the government's business rates relief. slide in sterling on continued confusion over the UK government's plans to ease lockdown measures also supported the FTSE 100.

Home improvement group Kingfisher KGF.L said underlying sales had turned positive in the first week of May as more of its stores re-opened from lockdowns. shares jumped 9.6%, leading gains on the domestically focussed FTSE 250 .FTMC , but were unable to offset a drag from real estate stocks .FTNMX8670 . Overall the mid-cap index fell 0.6%.

After rallying in April on historic global stimulus and hopes of a pick-up in business activity, the FTSE 100 has struggled to build on its gains in May as countries such as Germany and South Korea report a surge in COVID-19 infections after easing lockdowns.

In the UK, which has one of the world's highest official COVID-19 death tolls, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a cautious reopening plan that includes a staged easing of restrictions and a 14-day quarantine for most international arrivals. rally has been driven by the large-scale stimulus packages, but investors can't ignore the economic reality indefinitely," said Daniel Grosvenor, director of equity strategy at Oxford Economics.

With economists forecasting the deepest UK recession in 300 years in 2020, all eyes will now be on first-quarter GDP figures for the country due on Wednesday.

"Everyone knows there's going to be some kind of contraction in the first quarter," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx in London.

"It will be interesting to see whether UK investors are acclimatized to really negative data, because these figures will be shocking, but they wouldn't necessarily be surprising."

Asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen SLA.L rose 3.9% after reporting estimated total assets of 490 billion pounds ($602 billion) at end-April and saying it was making progress towards its cost saving targets. developer Land Securities LAND.L slumped 12.7% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 as it reported an annual pretax loss of more than $1 billion. ($1 = 0.8137 pounds)

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