FTSE 100 ekes out another record high as investors remain optimistic
The FTSE 100 eked out another record high on Friday as investors remained optimistic in the wake of the Dutch elections and US interest rate hike.
London's blue chip index ended the day higher by 0.1% or 9.01 points at 7,424.96, marking its second straight record closing high after ending the day at 7,415.95 points on Thursday.
Sterling rose 0.2% against the US dollar to 1.238, and jumped over 0.4% versus the euro to 1.152.
Investors have been cheering the US Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates this week, which further signalled recovery in one of the world's largest economies.
Markets were also buoyant following the defeat of Geert Wilders' populist party in the Dutch election.
Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "After all the excitement in the last few days, coupled with an empty economic diary, it is understandable that the market has been running on fumes this Friday.
"The worry is that, at their current highs, the Western indices are now lacking a sense of purpose, especially with the week's Federal Reserve meeting in the rear-view mirror."
He said investors are expected to focus primarily on UK inflation and retail sales data due out next week.
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax rose 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices were hovering near the flatline at 51.68 US dollars per barrel (£41.73).
In UK stocks, Panmure Gordon shares surged 39p to 98.5p after f ormer Barclays boss Bob Diamond launched a joint takeover bid for the City stockbroker through his private equity firm Atlas Merchant Capital, alongside Qatari bank QInvest.
The deal, for 100p per share, values Panmure at £15.5 million and represents a 68% premium.
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) shares dropped 2.25p to 568.75p as the British Airways owner launched its new low-cost airline brand called Level, that aims to compete with rivals for inter-continental passengers.
Berkeley Group shares rose 181p to 3,144p after the housebuilder said it expects full year profits to come in at the top end of expectations after signalling that the London housing market has stabilised following a Brexit shock.
Shares in Amec Foster Wheeler fell 16.4p to 496.6p despite news that the energy-to-infrastructure firm secured a portion of a 950 million US dollar contract (£767 million) with the US Air Force, just days after Wood Group made a £2.2 billion swoop for the firm.
SThree shares fell 8.5p to 307p after reporting that profits at its UK and Ireland arm fell 9% to £13 million in the first quarter as a post-Brexit vote slowdown in banking, finance and public sector hiring hurt the recruitment firm.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Admiral Group up 37p to 1,945p, ConvaTec Group up 4.8p to 260.8p, easyJet up 18p to 1,022p, and Barratt Developments up 8.5p to 543p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Old Mutual down 5.4p to 221.3p, Capita down 10p to 570.5p, Standard Chartered down 11.3p to 730.4p, and Marks and Spencer Group down 4.9p to 329.3p.