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FTSE 100 rises above 7,000 for the first time since pandemic

Written by: Emma Lunn
The FTSE 100 is trading above its pre-pandemic levels as the economy opens up and the UK’s vaccination program continues.

The FTSE 250 has also hit a new high, hitting 22,586.99 this morning, just a week after recording a previous record high.

The FTSE 100 was last above the 7,000 mark in February last year before the coronavirus spread and much of the world was plunged into lockdowns.

This time last year many people wouldn’t have expected the markets to have recovered as strongly as they have, but the announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine last year combined with the fast roll out of jabs in the UK has seen the economic outlook markedly improve. Industrial, banking and mining stocks, in particular, have made gains this week.

Experts say consensus earnings forecasts for the indexes look to be accurate, or even prove too low. An aggregate of the estimates made for each member of the index suggests that the FTSE 100’s total pre-tax profit will be £178bn in 2021 and £205bn in 2022. These figures exceed the £166bn made in 2019, before the pandemic hit home.

Despite the recent rally, the UK market continues to look very attractive compared to the US and European markets, trading on a 40% and 25% discount respectively.

Nick Peters, multi asset portfolio manager at Fidelity International, said: “We’re broadly positive on UK equities relative to other markets, now that Brexit negotiations are behind us and the vaccine roll-out has been stronger than expected. Whilst we’re not out of the woods yet, economic data has surprised to the upside this year, and a strong domestic economy should particularly benefit the FTSE 250.

“The UK equity market’s composition is also highly tilted towards more cyclical sectors (in contrast to other equity regions which had fared better during the worst of the pandemic period last year). Recent performance has been positive in the UK, but valuations still look reasonable compared with some other areas of the global equity market, particularly certain sectors such as energy and financials. As the global recovery becomes more entrenched, fuelled by continued fiscal stimulus and ultra-loose monetary policy, we think this should translate into continued positive UK equity market performance.”

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