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LONDON: London’s FTSE 100 clocked its best day in over two months on Wednesday, supported by gains in heavyweight mining and banking stocks on recovery optimism, while shares of Croda International jumped after it announced a business review.

The blue-chip index rose 1.8%, with the speciality chemicals group’s shares gaining 3.6% after it announced a strategic review of two units that cater more to industrial customers as it shifts focus to consumer-care and life-sciences sectors.

Miners provided the biggest boost to the index tracking higher metal prices. Anglo American added 6.1%, after Citigroup raised its price target.

The wider banking index gained 2.9% with HSBC Holdings and Barclays jumping more than 2% each.

The FTSE 100 has gained 8.7% so far this year as easing of business restrictions after the third lockdown and improving economic data coupled with speedy vaccine rollouts and government support pointed to a strong recovery from the pandemic crash last year.

However, concerns that central banks might put a lid on their policies as economies reopen and inflation rises has kept FTSE 100 in a tight trading range recently. All eyes are now on the Bank of England’s meeting on May 6 where it will likely slow its bond purchases.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index advanced 0.3%.

Building materials supplier SIG gained 7.3% as it sees return to profitability in the first half of 2021, and forecast higher annual profit than previously expected.

British challenger bank Virgin Money slipped 1.6% after a surprise one-off costs, knocking its shares despite a return to half-year profit and a forecast for improved margins.

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