Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

What are the best UK shares to watch in 2021?

After an uncertain start to 2021, many investors are wondering which UK shares to watch now in 2021. We’ve broken down the key themes and gathered analysts’ expert insights – plus we’ll explain how to take a position.

UK shares in 2021: key themes

The key themes for the next few months are going to be a major decider of which shares are the best to watch. Here are three areas that could be worth keeping an eye on:

  • How well British and European businesses adapt to a post-Brexit European market after the end of the transition period
  • The Covid-19 rebound after mass vaccine rollouts in 2021 – also see our analysts’ predictions about the likely shape of a post-pandemic economic recovery
  • Ongoing debates and steps taken around the restrictions or legalisation of UK cannabis companies – the UK is being the largest supplier of medicinal cannabis in the world, with some of these companies having already made high profile debuts on the stock exchange this year (such as MGC Pharmaceuticals and Kanabo)

Best UK shares to buy in 2021 now: our analysts’ picks

We asked our market analysts for their top picks for the next few months. You’ll be able to see what they think below.

Where this article refers to the best UK shares, these are stocks picked by our analysts by virtue of market cap, dividends, share price performance and other factors. Note that we do not give financial advice.

Remember, the best stocks for you will always be ones underpinned by your own thorough analysis of both the company and the market.

Ashtead Group
Recommended by: Chris Beauchamp, IG chief market analyst

As the US moves into full-on recovery, with mass vaccinations underscoring president Joe Biden’s promises to ‘build back better’, equipment hire firm Ashtead Group appears well-placed to benefit from a potential surge in US construction activity.
While its shares recently hit a new record high, there seems little indication that momentum in this star performer on the FTSE 100 is about to slow – plus, it’s avoided much of the (admittedly-limited) volatility seen in indices in 2021 so far.

Lloyds Banking Group
Recommended by: Josh Mahony, IG senior market analyst

Banking stocks are likely to provide a haven in an environment of rising yields, with fear of interest rate hikes expected to provide a key theme in the months ahead.

Reflation is underway and we’ve already seen the impact rising inflation can have, so it will be important to look for shares that fare well in such an environment. Banking stocks are procyclical, meaning they perform best when economic data improves. While risks remain thanks to the continuous appearance of new Covid-19 strains, the successful vaccination programme in the UK does provide a significant degree of protection for the UK economic recovery.

With Lloyds representing the largest mortgage provider in the UK, the prospect of continued house price gains should also benefit the bank. Many of the risks associated with lockdowns have been mitigated and the economic picture looks set to markedly improve, so Lloyds should be an interesting player in the event of rising interest rates.

Best UK dividend shares in 2021 right now

The top UK dividend shares for the next quarter, based on our analysts’ picks are:

  1. M&G
  2. Imperial Brands Group
  3. Diversified Oil & Gas

See our full list of the top UK dividend shares in 2021to buy right now

Best UK penny stocks for 2021 so far

The top UK penny stocks for the next few months, based on their share price increase in the quarter are:

  1. Galantas Gold Corp
  2. Quantum Blockchain Technologies
  3. Document Security Systems

See our full list of the top UK penny stocks to watch now

Best UK tech stocks in 2021

The top UK tech stocks to watch in 2021, according to their performance in the quarter so far and our analysts’ assessment of their overall company outlook, are:

  1. Ocado
  2. Softcat
  3. Computacenter
  4. ​Bytes Group

See our full list of the top UK tech stocks to watch to watch now

Best UK value and blue-chip stocks in 2021

Top UK value and blue-chip stocks to trade in 2021, based on their market cap are:

  1. AstraZeneca
  2. HSBC
  3. GlaxoSmithKline

See our full list of the top UK value and blue-chip stocks for 2021

Top UK cannabis stocks in 2021

The top UK medicinal cannabis companies by market cap, based on stocks that are listed on either the London Stock Exchange (LSE) or alternative investment market (AIM) are:

  1. Kanabo
  2. MGC Pharmaceuticals
  3. GW Pharmaceuticals

See our full list of the top UK cannabis stocks to watch in 2021

How to trade or invest in UK stocks

With us, you can invest in shares and buy them outright or you can trade on the best UK companies’ share prices

Trading the best UK shares

  1. Create an account or log in and go to our trading platform
  2. Decide whether you want to trade with spread bets or CFDs
  3. Search for your opportunity
  4. Select ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ on the deal ticket
  5. Choose your position size and take steps to manage your risk
  6. Open and monitor your position
  7. Close your position

Investing in shares

  1. Decide whether you want to invest in shares with an IG ISA or open a share dealing account
  2. Create an account or, if you already have one, log in and go to our platform
  3. Transfer any existing share dealing portfolio or ISA held with other brokers to us for free
  4. Choose the number of shares you want to buy or sell
  5. Buy and sell your shares with us at quote or on exchange


Trading shares with us means that you’ll be speculating on a company’s share price without owning the shares directly. Instead, you’ll be opening a position with spread bets or CFDs, which are leveraged derivatives.

CFDs and spread bets are leveraged derivatives. This means that you can open a position with a deposit, called margin. While this can lower the cost of the trade, it will amplify both profits and losses – as these will be based on the full position size.

Learn more about the impact of leverage on your trading

When investing in shares, you take direct ownership of the shares rather than just speculating on prices. This means that you’ll profit from your investment if you sell your shares for more than you paid to buy them. Equally, you’ll incur a loss should the price of the share depreciate.

Find out more about how to buy shares.

Because leverage is only available for derivative trading, you’ll need to commit the full value of your position upfront when investing in shares.

With us, you can invest from zero commission on US shares and from £3 commission on UK shares. These rates are available to clients who opened three or more positions on their share dealing account in the previous month. Remember that investments can fall in value as well as rise, so you may receive back less than you initially invested.

Best UK shares to watch in 2021 summed up

  • Certain key themes will affect stock market performance for the next few months of 2021 – either for better or worse
  • Adapting (or being disrupted by) life after the Brexit transition period, the shape of the Covid-19 rebound going forward and certain niche opportunities – like the listing of certain medicinal marijuana companies in the UK – could all be ones to watch
  • There are plenty of top UK shares to invest in, from penny stocks and tech stocks, to blue chip stocks and medicinal cannabis stocks
  • To take a position on these sectors and the companies in them, you’ll need a share dealing or trading account
  • Share dealing means you take direct ownership of the underlying shares. You’ll also receive voting rights and dividends (if paid), and you’ll profit from any upward movements in the stock’s price
  • Trading means you take a speculative position on share price movements. You can go long if you think the share price will rise, or go short if you think it will fall

Last updated : 2021-06-29T09:01:02+0100


This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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