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LONDON: London’s FTSE 100 was little changed on Tuesday as poor earnings by Vodafone offset gains in bank stocks, while better-than-expected jobs data strengthened views of a stronger economic recovery from a pandemic-driven crash last year.

The blue-chip index rose 0.02%, with banks, mainly HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group and Standard Chartered gaining between 0.8% and 1.5%.

Consumer discretionary stocks, including Compass Group, Kingfisher and Just Eat Takeaway.com also provided the biggest boost to the index.

Mobile operator Vodafone Group fell 8.9% on reporting a 1.2% drop in annual adjusted earnings, as Covid-19 hit roaming revenue and handset sales.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index climbed 0.5%.

Britain’s unemployment rate fell again, to 4.8% between January and March, and hiring rose further in April, according to data that showed employers gearing up for the easing of coronavirus curbs.

“A third consecutive month of falling unemployment suggests the peak rate caused by the pandemic wasn’t as high as feared”, said Sophie Griffiths, Market Analyst, UK & EMEA at OANDA.

The FTSE 100 has gained nearly 9.4% year-to-date as investors flocked to energy, materials and banking stocks that are seen benefiting the most from a stronger economic recovery due to speedy Covid-19 vaccinations and government support.

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