Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 ends the week on an 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% to reach 7,210.05, which topped Thursday's closing high of 7,195.31.

However, the index failed to breach its 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 1.1%, Marks & Spencer which rose 0.88% , Tesco which rose 0.2%, Sainsbury which gained 0.6%, and Morrisons Supermarkets which rose 1.37%.

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 1.9% after Barclays upgraded the stock to overweight and raised its target price to 75p from 55p.

Burberry also jumped nearly 1.6% as Exane BNP raised the price target for the luxury retailer's stock to 1,590p from 1,490p.

Next shares inched higher by 0.2% 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 7.8% 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.

It also benefited from greater volatility and market activity amid expectations for future interest rate rises in the US.