The FTSE 100, Britain’s benchmark share index, jumped to its highest level in a year on Friday morning as investors welcomed the Bank of England’s huge new stimulus package, launched on Thursday afternoon.
The Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of just 0.25% on Thursday, and launched a £70 billion programme of quantitative easing, including an unprecedented £10 billion dedicated to buying investment grade bonds from companies with substantial UK operations.
The rate cut was widely expected, with markets pricing an almost 100% chance of the cut happening, but the extension of bond buying, while not massively shocking, was not as widely expected.
Investors reacted positively to that news, with the FTSE 100 ending Thursday up by around 1.6%. That positivity has continued on Friday, with stocks in the UK jumping as much as 0.6% soon after the open. It has since pared some of those gains, and just before 10:00 a.m. BST (5:00 a.m. ET) is around 0.3% higher at 6,759 points.
Here’s the chart showing the FTSE’s massive jump in the past couple of days:
And here’s the longer term chart:
On an individual basis, RBS is at the bottom of the pile on Friday, it posted a £2 billion loss for the first six months of the year. At pixel time, it is off more than 4.5%. At the other end of the table, Hikma Pharmaceuticals is higher by 4.5%, and tops the index.
After an initial post-referendum crash, the FTSE 100 has gained substantially and is now more than 6% higher than it was on the day before the referendum result, leading some people to suggest that it is “masking” the post-Brexit economic impact.
One of the major drivers of the FTSE’s recent strength has been the crazy weakness of the pound, which slumped to a 31-year low following the Brexit vote. Around 70% of the revenue of the companies that make up the FTSE 100 is derived from abroad, meaning that when sterling is weak, they make more money.
Elsewhere on the continent, stocks are enjoying another strong day, boosted by the FTSE’s rally and a small step-up in overall sentiment. Here’s the scoreboard: