* FTSE 100 up 0.7%, FTSE 250 up 0.5%
* Oil stocks, financials biggest boosts on main index
* Informa gains after trading update
* Royal Mail jumps on rating upgrades
* Mothercare jumps after FY results
(Adds analyst comments, graphic, updates to closing prices)
By Muvija M and Helen Reid
May 24 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 held its gains on Friday
after Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation date as
head of her party in a widely expected move that nevertheless raises
the prospect of a successor likely to seek a more hardline Brexit deal.
The FTSE 100 added 0.7% and the midcap index rose 0.5%,
slightly off its opening levels, as traders and investors said the
market had already priced in May's move when rumours first started
Housebuilders, considered prone to any hit to the economy from a
chaotic "no-deal" departure from the European Union, barely
budged after May's speech.
"It's been so well-flagged and UK assets have been hammered
all week. Realistically we know no more or less than we did
yesterday," said a trader.
Housebuilders, retailers, domestic banks and other
Brexit-sensitive stocks fell sharply earlier this week when pressure
grew on May and investors grappled with the likelihood of Boris
Johnson, who wants a tougher divorce deal, as her successor.
The former foreign secretary is favourite to win the Conservative
party leadership contest, according to Oddschecker. May will step down
as prime minister once the new party leader is chosen, expected in July.
"Theresa May's announcement ... comes as no surprise, but it
could lead to a chain reaction that will ultimately be negative for UK
market sentiment," said Seema Shah, senior global investment
strategist at Principal Global Investors.
"At this stage the extreme results of either no deal or no
Brexit seem more likely than a negotiated managed Brexit."
Risk appetite more broadly returned to markets after U.S.
President Donald Trump predicted a swift end to the trade dispute with
Miners , which broke a four-day losing streak, provided the
biggest boost to the main bourse after copper prices rebounded as the
Event manager Informa added 2.5% after an upbeat trading
update, while BT lost 1.1% after regulator Ofcom said the telecoms
group will be forced to give rivals greater access to its core network
Among midcaps, Royal Mail jumped 6.4% on its best day in 5-1/2
years after two brokerage firms upgraded the stock following results
earlier this week in which the company detailed its turnaround plan.
Mothercare surged 8.3% after its annual report showed
restructuring efforts were paying off.
Small-cap media firm Tarsus shot up by 38% after European
private equity firm Charterhouse said it had made a cash bid valuing
the company at about 561 million pounds.
Concern over a possible no-deal Brexit, along with an escalation
in the trade war between Washington and Beijing, have left the FTSE
100 on course for its first monthly drop this year.
Rating agency Moody's as well as Goldman Sachs hiked the chances
of a potentially chaotic no-deal Brexit following May's resignation as
"May's successor will likely take a harder stance on Brexit
and would potentially resurrect the spectre of a no-deal exit as a
negotiating tool, although it remains to be seen if they would carry
through with the threat," analysts at S&P wrote.
Performance of UK indexes since Theresa May took over as PM
(Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru Editing by
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