London markets had another strong showing to end the week in high spirits, following on from Thursday’s inroads.
The FTSE has not yet followed its counterparts to record highs but made further strides towards pre-pandemic levels as travel and commodity stocks made ground.
The FTSE 100 closed 26.32 points, or 0.37%, higher at 7,234.03 on Friday.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been another strong session for European markets, with airlines getting a lift after the US announced that it would be reopening its borders to vaccinated visitors on November 8, and the UK Government announced that fully vaccinated passengers from red list countries can take a lateral flow test from October 24.
“The FTSE 100 has managed to sustain the gains from yesterday, consolidating at 18-month highs, helped by strong performances across a number of key sectors, with energy, financials and basic resource stocks all seeing strong gains.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the other major markets have seen even bigger moves upwards due to the improvement in sentiment.
The German Dax increased by 0.81% and the French Cac moved 0.63% higher.
Across the Atlantic, Wall Street jumped immediately as traders welcomed a better than expected set of US retail statistics for September.
Meanwhile, sterling benefited from an increased appetite for risk among traders, helping it to its highest level against the euro since February last year.
The pound was 0.06% lower versus the US dollar at 1.376 and was up 0.04% against the euro at 1.186.
In company news, Pearson plunged to the foot of the FTSE as it saw a strong US jobs market take potential students away from further education.
The publisher said that its higher education unit had taken a 7% hit, despite growth in the UK and Canada which was more than offset by a 9% drop in the US in the first nine months of the year.
Shares tumbled by 108.6p to 620.4p at the close of play
Elsewhere, cafe-bar operator Loungers finished higher after it reported that sales since reopening were significantly beyond pre-pandemic levels.
The AIM-listed hospitality firm reported that like-for-like sales jumped by 26.6% over the 20 weeks to October 3, against the comparable period in 2019.
This positive update helped its shares move 5p higher to 297.5p.
Falcon Oil bounced higher after it reported “very encouraging” preliminary results for its Velkerri 76 well.
The Dubai-based oil and gas firm improved by 1p to 8.1p per share.
Rio Tinto shares slipped by 73p to 5,038p after the mining giant downgraded its production expectations off the back of labour shortages in Australia.
The price of oil continued its inexorable rise, lifting briefly above 85 dollars per barrel for the first time in three years as demand continues to be boosted by natural gas shortages.
Brent crude increased by 0.9% to 84.76 dollars per barrel.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ocado, up 65.5p at 1,797.5p, Evraz, up 22.4p at 617.4p, IAG, up 5.76p at 182.92p, and Intercontinental Hotels Group, up 128p at 5,098p.
The biggest fallers of the day were Pearson, down 108.6p at 620.4p, Severn Trent, down 71p at 2,604p, Smurfit Kappa, down 97p at 3,759p, and Informa, down 13p at 549.4p.