The more positive market sentiment seen at the start of the week extended into Tuesday, supported by waning fears about the Omicron variant and robust Chinese trade data.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Suggestions the new Covid strain might only trigger mild symptoms are prompting relief among investors and helping travel stocks take off – however given the typical gap between infection and hospitalisation with coronavirus it remains early days in our understanding of just how virulent Omicron is.
“China import data hinted at a domestic recovery and export data, while lower, was still notably better than expected. The net result being that the FTSE 100 index is now back at the levels it traded at before the Omicron-driven sell-off.
“The UK housing market continues to break more records than Usain Bolt as prices increased at their fastest rate in 15 years. However, there must now be some concern about what might happen when the music stops given the speed of the market’s recovery from its deep freeze in the initial stages of the pandemic.
“There were big gains for US-focused plumbing products outfit Ferguson. The business is not only enjoying strong demand but is also doing a good job of mitigating cost inflation, allowing it to boost profit expectations. The company will also have expectations of work coming down the pipe from the recently agreed US infrastructure package.
“Investors reacted positively to British American Tobacco’s latest trading update where the most important takeaway was the number of people switching to its vaping products – which are finally expected to make a contribution to group profit this year.
“It’s just a start but, given the regulatory, investor and political pressure associated with the sale of traditional cigarettes it is a modest step in the right direction for the business.”