FTSE 100 ends week on all-time high
A weaker pound helped push the FTSE 100 to yet another all-time high on Friday, marking its seventh consecutive record close in a bumper start for new year trading.
The FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.2% or 14.74 points to reach 7,210.05, which topped Thursday's closing high of 7,195.31.
However, it failed to breach the previous mid-session record of 7,211.96.
If it manages to reach another record close on Monday, it would be the FTSE 100's longest record-setting streak since May 1997.
London's top flight index received a boost from the weaker pound, which usually raises interest in the FTSE 100's multinational stocks, as stronger foreign currencies tend to boost company earnings.
Sterling fell 0.4% against the euro to 1.165, and 0.8% against the US dollar to trade near 1.231.
The dollar strengthened despite a slight increase in US unemployment from 4.6% to 4.7%, with investors focusing on better-than-expected wage growth and an upward revision to November's jobs numbers.
Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "Bar that initially 7,200-grazing flurry for the FTSE it's been a painfully dull week, with investors seemingly reluctant to get on board with the all-time high-flirting indices, but content enough to let those same indices loiter just below a series of landmark levels."
"Though next week is even blander data-wise, a string of post-Christmas statements from the FTSE's key supermarkets and retailers, and a dose of financial earnings from the US on Friday, could cause a bit more excitement."
Investors were looking ahead to trading updates from the likes of Primark-owner Associated British Foods which fell 30p to 2,655p, Marks & Spencer which rose 2.9p to 333.7, Tesco which rose 0.45p to 199.5p, Sainsbury which gained 1.5p to 252p, and Morrison Supermarkets which rose 3.2p to 236.3p.
Across Europe, the French CAC 40 rose nearly 0.2% and the German Dax inched higher by around 0.1%
In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose nearly 0.6% to around 57.19 US dollars per barrel (£46.44) as investors weighed the likelihood of major producers following through with promised production cuts meant to tackle the industry's supply glut.
In UK stocks, Lloyds Banking Group shares rose 1.25p to 65.9p after Barclays upgraded the stock to overweight and raised its target price to 75p from 55p.
Burberry also jumped 23p to 1,473p as Exane BNP raised the price target for the luxury retailer's stock to 1,590p from 1,490p.
Next shares inched higher 10p to 4,099p after a major sell-off earlier this week when the company warned that profits could tumble as much as 14% over the following year in the worst-case scenario.
Shares in brokerage TP Icap - formerly known as Tullett Prebon - shot up 34p to 467.4p after saying revenue was set to come in 12% higher than the £796 million reported in 2015, thanks to a spike in trading in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential victory.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were BAE Systems up 17.5p at 605p, Lloyds Banking Group up 1.25p to 65.9p, Rolls-Royce Holdings up 11p at 650.5p, and Burberry Group up 23p to 1,473p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo down 49p at 1,349p, Randgold Resources down 190p at 6,515p, Babcock International down 16p at 939.5p, and DCC down 95p to 6,210p.