Energy stocks lift UK’s FTSE 100, Vodafone shines

By Shashwat Chauhan and Shubham Batra

(Reuters) -Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed on Monday as heavyweight energy stocks rose, tracking strength in crude oil prices, while Vodafone’s shares topped the list of gainers after telecom firm Iliad submitted a proposal to create a joint venture in Italy.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 0.5%, while the more domestically focused FTSE 250 mid-cap index edged 0.1% higher.

Vodafone jumped 3.9% after Iliad said it submitted a proposal to the telecom company to merge their Italian businesses.

Heavyweight energy stocks added 1.5%, tracking a jump in crude oil prices, as mounting attacks by the Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi militant group on ships in the Red Sea disrupted maritime trade. [O/R]

“Given the importance of the Red Sea and Suez Canal as a crucial transit point for both crude oil and natural gas these suspensions mean that cargos face a lengthy diversion around the Horn of Africa which will add significant costs to company supply chains,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Looking ahead, data due this week includes domestic and euro zone inflation, along with GDP estimates from Britain and the U.S.

The FTSE 100 is extending three consecutive weeks of gains on the back of hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve could consider cutting interest rates soon.

Tempering some of those expectations, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic pushed back on Friday saying the U.S. central bank can begin reducing rates “sometime in the third quarter” of 2024 if inflation falls as expected. New York Fed President John Williams has also sought to cool rate-cut forecasts.

Among other individual stocks, GSK gained 1.6% after the drugmaker said its cancer drug combination met its primary goal in a late-stage trial.

Entain advanced 4.1% after Jefferies upgraded the sports betting firm’s rating to “buy” from “hold”.

On the downside, Fresnillo lost 5.2% after Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating to “underweight” from “equal-weight”.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Shubham Batra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Janane Venkatraman)