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London Markets: FTSE 100 climbs as Suez blockage sparks gains for oil prices

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A major disruption to global shipping had a silver lining for London stocks on Friday, as oil prices climbed, driving up shares of heavily weighted BP and Shell, with mining companies also on the rise.

The FTSE 100 index
UKX,
+0.79%

rose 0.6% to 6,715.70, while the FTSE 250
MCX,
+1.17%

gained 0.9% and the pound
GBPUSD,
+0.40%

gained 0.3% against the dollar. West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude prices each rose more than 2%, as the massive container ship Ever Given remained stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking traffic on either side.

Read: Concerns over the Suez Canal accident tilt toward natural gas

It is also a key waterway for energy shipments, and prices of crude and Brent futures climbed over 2% on Friday. While the price reaction has been seen as short-term, officials in Egypt say disruptions could stretch on for several days. Shares of major oil companies BP
BP,
+2.62%

BP,
+2.62%

and Shell
RDS.A,
+1.68%

RDSA,
+1.86%

climbed 3.6% and 2.8%, respectively.

Commodity-related stocks were also rising on optimism over the global economy, as the U.S. vaccination campaign picks up and the U.K. government’s plan to gradually ease the lockdown over the next three months was approved in Parliament on Thursday. Shares of miner Rio Tinto
RIO,
+3.16%

RIO,
+3.42%

climbed 3.7%.

Data showed U.K. retail sales jumped 2.1% in February, boosted by spending on household goods and home-improvement supplies.

And stocks geared toward a reopening also got a boost, with shares of movie-theater operator Cineworld
CINE,
+7.16%

climbing 8%, while those of rail and coach ticketing app Trainline
TRN,
+3.52%

and airline easyJet
EZJ,
+3.76%

rose over 3% each.

Smiths Group
SMIN,
+7.33%

was a standout gainer, up 7% after the engineering company nearly doubled pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2021 and said it was confident about meeting full-year forecasts.

MarketWatch Premium: Investors worry inflation will persist after a spike this summer — but that likely won’t be the case

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