Smaller listed UK companies have raced past blue-chip stocks over the past year as fading Brexit angst and the quick vaccine rollout has bolstered Britain’s economic outlook. The FTSE index of small market capitalisation equities excluding investment trusts has soared almost 70 per cent over the past year, widely outpacing the 23 per cent rise for the FTSE 350 index of the biggest stocks listed on UK markets. In a sign of the strength of the rally, the small cap gauge struck a record high on Tuesday, while the UK benchmark FTSE 100 remains more than a tenth below its 2018 peak.
Wall Street gave away its early gains on Wednesday after the White House triggered a late sell-off in some of the largest pharmaceutical companies by announcing it would support a suspension of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines. The S&P 500 closed just 0.1 per cent higher for the day, having traded up by as much as 0.6 per cent earlier in the session. The Nasdaq Composite gave up its gains after it had battled back from a near 2 per cent loss on Tuesday, finishing the day down 0.4 per cent.
One of Britain’s most successful buyout specialists, the industrial conglomerate Melrose Industries, is going green with the creation of a division that will develop new methods of storing hydrogen. Melrose, best known for buying, streamlining and selling engineering businesses, said it would use its expertise in metallic hydrides to create a new method for storing the gas. GKN Powder Metallurgy, acquired as part of an £8bn hostile takeover of UK engineer GKN in 2018, has launched a dedicated hydrogen unit that will generate renewable or “green” forms of the gas that will then be stored.