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* UK factory activity expands at fastest rate since 1994
* Weaker pound boosts heavyweight consumer staple companies
* FTSE 100 down 0.7%, FTSE 250 down 0.6%
(Updates to market close)
By Devik Jain and Shivani Kumaresan
May 4 (Reuters) - British shares were subdued on Tuesday as
a drop in bond yields across Europe dragged financials stocks
down, while data showed manufacturing activity grew at its
fastest pace since 1994 as businesses tried to make up for lost
ground during the pandemic.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 0.7%, with bank
stocks, including HSBC Holdings, Barclays PLC
and Standard Chartered Plc posing the biggest drag on
Heavyweight oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell
gained 2.3% and 1.1% respectively. The stocks provided
the biggest boost on optimism about higher demand as economies
"People are switching a bit out of stocks into bonds after
the U.S. Treasury secretary and Fed officials dampened down
inflation fears," said Keith Temperton, equity sales trader at
"The big thing we are waiting for this week is the U.S.
jobless numbers. That’s going to be the big key to power the
market for the whole of May."
Euro zone bond yields fell on Tuesday, away from recent
multi-month highs as volatility in stocks boosted demand for
safe havens, giving bonds a respite from a recent heavy selloff.
The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index
The FTSE 100 has gained more than 7.4% year-to-date as
investors flocked to energy and materials stocks that are seen
benefiting the most from a stronger economic recovery due to
speedy COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and government policy support.
Meanwhile, data showed April PMI rose to 60.9 in April. All
eyes now are on the Bank of England policy meeting on May 6,
where it will likely ease its foot off the stimulus pedal and
reduce its pace of bond purchases.
Among other stocks, dollar-earning large companies Diageo
, Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco
gained as the pound softened.
(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V
and Mark Heinrich)