The UK’s mid-cap FTSE 250 index opened at a fresh record high on Friday amid a broadly positive morning for European stock markets.

The FTSE 250 climbed 0.2 per cent in early trading to its highest ever level at 18,669, before falling back to a 0.1 per cent rise by publication time.

While the UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 index has slipped back in recent weeks after hitting a string of record highs at the start of the year, the mid-cap index has made steady gains. The FTSE 250 has returned 3.16 per cent so far this year, compared to only 1.7 per cent for the FTSE 100.

Specialty chemicals group Elementis was the biggest riser on Friday, with shares up 8.5 per cent after it announced a $360m deal to buy SummitReheis, a US-based company that specialises in ingredients for anti-perspirants.

Just Eat, meanwhile, sank to the bottom of the index. Shares fell 6.5 per cent after it announced the departure of its chief executive.

Unlike the FTSE 100, which is dominated by multinational companies and sensitive to swings in sterling and commodity prices, the FTSE 250 is considered to be a better reflection of the health of the UK economy.

Illustrating that division, it was the large-cap index that made the biggest strides on Friday, driven by strong gains by mining groups Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta and Glencore. which have bases in South Africa, Australia, Chile and Switzerland respectively. The FTSE 100 was up 0.52 per cent at publication time.

Elsewhere in Europe, the continent-wide Stoxx 600 rose 0.28 per cent, with gains across all the major national indices.

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