Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 receives boost from speculation of Exxon bid for BP

The FTSE 100 chalked up gains on Friday, pulled higher by BP shares amid speculation that ExxonMobil was considering a bid for the UK oil giant.

London's top tier index ended the day higher by 0.38%, or 28.12 points, at 7,343.08.

BP was among the biggest risers, jumping 16.7p to 470.7p after reports emerged over a potential transatlantic deal.

Jasper Lawler, a senior market analyst at London Capital Group said: "One of the Square Mile's favourite rumours, that of Exxon buying BP was an additional support for the shares of Big Oil."

The index was also held up by BT , which reached an agreement with Ofcom to legally separate its infrastructure arm Openreach.

The telecoms giant has faced growing calls from rivals to hive off Openreach, and in November the communications regulator ordered a legal separation of the firm.

BT rose 12.25p to 342.45p following the news.

In currency markets, the pound was relatively flat against the US dollar at 1.215, but fell 0.9% versus the euro to 1.139.

"A pullback in the US dollar did little to support the British pound which traded in a tight range near seven week lows after UK industrial output data disappointed," Mr Lawler said.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that construction output and industrial production output both fell 0.4% in January, though Britain's deficit in goods and services, the gap between exports and imports, was £2 billion in January, level with the month before.

Investors were also poised for the triggering of Article 50 which could reportedly take place as early as Tuesday, putting much-anticipated Brexit negotiations in motion.

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 rose more than 0.2%, while the German Dax dropped around 0.1%.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices fell further by 1.2% to around 51.72 US dollars per barrel (£42.53), as investors worried that Opec production cuts are not enough to tackle the global supply glut.

In UK stocks, Lloyds Banking Group shares rose 0.21p to 68.76p despite news that the British lender has forked out an extra £350 million to cover mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) claims, bringing its total bill for the scandal to £17.3 billion.

The high street lender hived off additional funds after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) extended its proposed deadline for new claims by two months to the end of August 2019.

Intu Properties fell 4.7p to 277.5p. The company announced on Friday that it had acquired the Xanadu shopping centre in Madrid, Spain, as well as the associated management and operating firm in a 530 million euro cash deal (£465 million).

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were BT Group up 12.25p to 342.45p, BP up 16.7p to 470.7p, Paddy Power Betfair up 195p to 8,815p, and Intertek Group up 62p to 3,855p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Intu Properties down 4.7p to 277.5p, British Land Company down 9.5p to 612.5p, Hammerson down 8.5p to 581p, and SSE down 21p to 1,503p.