London stocks round off March quarter with healthy gains

By Shubham Batra, Siddarth S and Pranav Kashyap

(Reuters) – Britain’s main stock indexes ended the March quarter on a positive note as data confirmed that Britain’s economy entered shallow recession in 2023, while JD Sports had its best day since April 2020 after confirming earnings guidance.

The bluechip FTSE 100 rose 0.3% and the midcap FTSE 250 index was up 0.4% on the day, hitting over one-year highs earlier in the session, with the benchmark index logging its best month since November 2022.

The resources-heavy index also ended the January-March quarter with around 3% gains, its highest since December 2022 but lagged its European peers.

JD Sports jumped 15.6% to a near three-month high after the sportswear retailer said its pretax profit for the year to Feb. 4 would meet guidance it downgraded in January in the range of 915-935 million pounds ($1.16-$1.18 billion).

“The company’s scale and deep relationships with important brands has given it an advantage over many rivals and enabled it to expand across different geographies and become a major force in the sports retail world,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

Retailers’ shares also led the sectoral gains with a 2.2% rise.

Precious metal miners and industrial metal miners boosted gains with a 1.9% and 1.3% advance, respectively, after prices of most base metals and gold rose, lifted by signs of stabilisation in China’s broader economy. [MET/L] [GOL/]

On the macro front, official data confirmed Britain’s economy entered a shallow recession last year, with GDP shrinking by 0.1% in the third quarter and by 0.3% in the fourth quarter, unchanged from preliminary estimates.

Investors will be focussed on a key reading of the U.S. personal consumption expenditure price index (PCE), the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, due on Friday, when most global markets will be shut for the Good Friday holiday.

Among other movers, Spirent Communications jumped 11.7% to the top of the midcap index on agreeing to Keysight Technologies’s offer, valuing the firm at 1.16 billion pounds.

M&G, Smith & Nephew and Taylor Wimpey were down between 2.3% and 6.1% as they traded ex-dividend.

($1 = 0.7919 pounds)

(Reporting by Siddarth S, Pranav Kashyap and Shubham Batra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami, Tasim Zahid and Costas Pitas)


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