FTSE 100 hits 8,000 points for first time as recession fears ease

The index of largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange reaches its highest level

Britain’s FTSE 100 share index has passed 8,000 points for the first time, as fears of a global recession ease.

In an afternoon surge, the index of the largest 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange hit 8,003.65 points, a new record.

It edged down again at the end of Wednesday, closing at 7,997 points, a gain of 0.55% over the day.

Shares were boosted as traders welcomed Wednesday’s release of better than forecast inflation numbers, raising hopes the Bank of England will not be bounced into hiking its rate further than markets are anticipating. The consumer prices index fell to 10.1% for January, down from 10.5% in December and more than the 10.3% that had been expected.

The FTSE 100, which is dominated by multinational companies, has been lifted in recent weeks by optimism that the global economy could fare better than feared this year. The index was also helped on Wednesday by a stronger US dollar, following a big increase in US retail sales in January.

Mining and oil giants benefiting from a commodities boom and sky-high energy prices have also helped propel the index higher over the last year, although the biggest contributors to the FTSE’s gains on Wednesday were consumer-facing companies, including betting firms. Barclays bank was the worst performer, dropping nearly 8% after reporting lower profits.

The reopening of China’s economy, as Beijing relaxes Covid restrictions, should boost demand and ease supply chain disruption, economists say. On Monday, the European Commission lifted its growth forecasts, saying it no longer expects the European Union to fall into recession in 2023.

Hopes that inflation has peaked also lifted stock markets this year, on hopes that central banks could stop increasing interest rates soon. Inflation fell in the UK and the US in January.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “Despite the doom and gloom, the FTSE 100 continues to reach fresh record highs, touching the key 8,000 technical and psychological milestone for the first time in its history.

“The landmark level underscores the divergence between the macroeconomic fundamentals and more forward-looking market prices with equities pricing in the prospect of peak interest rates and tempering inflation.”

Shares in the oil companies BP and Shell have rallied this year, as both reported record profits for 2022 due to the jump in energy prices after the Ukraine war.

The FTSE 100 hit its first record high in more than four years in early February.

The index was created in January 1984, beginning at 1,000 points.

During 2022 it rose by almost 1%, defying the wider slump in global stock markets last year.

“Last year’s outperformance for the UK’s large-cap index stood the index in good stead ahead of the revival in risk appetite and return to positive sentiment across global equities,” said Scholar.

“The FTSE 100’s resilience last year can be attributed to its lack of tech giants, allowing the index to avoid 2022’s tech wreck. Oil and mining giants also benefited from 2022’s commodity boom while British lenders enjoyed a tailwind from tightening monetary policy,” she added.

UK stocks have also benefited from optimism that the economy will not shrink as much this year as feared.

The latest UK GDP figures show that the UK narrowly staved off a recession at the end of 2022. The Bank of England has also lifted its forecasts, having previously predicted the longest recession since records began.

Bank of America reported on Tuesday that concerns over a global recession have “melted away”.

Its regular survey of European fund managers found that a net 24% think the global economy will go into a recession over the next 12 months. That’s down from 51% last month and a peak of 77% in November.