UPDATE 2-UK stocks end higher as recovery hope offsets grim jobless data


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    * Travel and leisure stocks jump on lockdown exit plan
    * Unemployment rate edges up to 5.1%
    * FTSE 100 up 0.2%, FTSE 250 adds 0.4%

 (Updates to market close)
    By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S
    Feb 23 (Reuters) - UK stocks closed higher on Tuesday,
bucking the trend in Europe as optimism around an economic
recovery led by plans to ease restrictions in Britain offset a
spike in the domestic unemployment rate. 
    After falling as much 1.7%, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100
 .FTSE  ended 0.2% higher after British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson said he was very optimistic that all COVID-19
restrictions in England would end on June 21. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KT37D
    The mid-cap FTSE 250  .FTMC  gained 0.4%.  
    "The announcement has given market an extra confidence that
the economy will be starting to move back into normalcy
progressively over the next few months and shares of travel
companies and banks are benefiting from that," said Chris
Bailey, strategist at Raymond James.
     British Airways owner IAG  ICAG.L  gained 2.0%, while
easyJet  EZJ.L , Wizz Air  WIZZ.L  and Cineworld  CINE.L  gained
between 1.8% and 9.5%.
    Summer holiday bookings surged by as much as 600% after
Britain laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus
restrictions.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KT27Y
    HSBC Holdings Plc  HSBA.L  edged up 0.8%, alongside other
banking stocks, despite lowering its long-term profitability
target.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KT077
    Barclays  BARC.L  and Lloyds Banking Group  LLOY.L  rose
3.1% and 2% respectively. 
    A raft of global stimulus has helped the FTSE 100 recover
about 35% from a coronavirus-driven crash last year, but it has
lagged its European peer on worries about the economic damage
from prolonged lockdowns. More recently, fears of rising
inflation have hit equities worldwide.
    Britain's jobless rate rose to 5.1% in the last three months
of 2020, its highest in nearly five years but still lower than
it would have been without a huge coronavirus jobs support
scheme that finance minister Rishi Sunak looks set to extend
next week. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KT1O3

 (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S in Bengaluru,
Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Rashmi Aich and Jonathan
 ((Shivani.Kumaresan@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 8780;))
For related prices, Reuters users may click on - * 
 UK stock report      .L     
 FTSE index:          0#.FTS6  
 techMARK 100 index:  .FTT1X          FTSE futures:      0#FFI:  
 Gilt futures:        0#FLG:          Smallcap index:     .FTSC  
 FTSE 250 index:      .FTMC           FTSE 350 index:     .FTLC  
 Market digest:       .AD.L           Top 10 by vol:      .AV.L  
 Top price gainers:   .NG.L           Top % gainers:      .PG.L  
 Top price losers:    .NL.L           Top % losers:       .PL.L  
 * For related news, click on - *
 UK hot stocks:       HOT  and  GB      Wall Street:           .N 
 Gilts report:        GB/             Euro bond report  GVD/EUR 
 Pan European stock report:  .EU 
 Tokyo stocks:        .T              HK stocks:            .HK 
 Sterling report:     GBP/            Dollar report:       USD/ 
 * For company prices, click on - *
 Company directory:   UKEQ           By sector:           FTAX  
 * For pan-European market data, click on - *
 European Equities speed guide................  EUR/EQUITY  
 FTSE Eurotop 300 index...........................  .FTEU3  
 DJ STOXX index...................................  .STOXX  
 Top 10 STOXX sectors........................  .PGL.STOXXS  
 Top 10 EUROSTOXX sectors...................  .PGL.STOXXES  
 Top 10 Eurotop 300 sectors..................  .PGL.FTEU3S  
 Top 25 European pct gainers....................  .PG.PEUR  
 Top 25 European pct losers.....................  .PL.PEUR ))

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