Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 finishes week higher as pound takes a hit from manufacturing data

Lessening global trade tensions also contributed to a good mood on the markets.

Manufacturing hit a 30-month low in the UK, knocking the value of the pound (PA)
Manufacturing hit a 30-month low in the UK, knocking the value of the pound (PA)

Strong commodity stocks and a weaker pound helped to lift top-flight shares in London on Friday, as the blue-chip index finished the week above the 7,000 mark.

The FTSE 100 climbed 51.37 points, or 0.74%, to close at 7,020.22.

It was bolstered by strong performances in commodity stocks, as well as a slight dip in the pound after disappointing UK manufacturing figures.

Fresh data showed that UK manufacturing activity is at a 30-month low after dropping more than expected in January.

Sterling dropped 0.4% to 1.140 euros and was down 0.19% to 1.308 US dollars.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said progress in US-Sino trade talks had also helped to put the FTSE 100 in a good mood.

“With the Chinese hailing great progress in recent talks and Trump calling for another meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the market is slowly coming around to the idea that the two sides could slowly be moving towards some for of agreement,” she said.

“For now, this is enough to lift sentiment. As we move closer to the trade truce deadline, investors will want more evidence of progress to keep the markets buoyant.”

Oil prices also ticked higher thanks to the more optimistic mood on the markets, as well as strong jobs data from the US. The threat of US sanctions on Venezuelan crude exports also raised the threat of tighter supply, supporting oil prices.

A barrel of Brent crude oil was trading at 62.16 US dollars, marking a 1.6% increase.

In London, Glencore was among the biggest fallers on the blue-chip index after releasing its latest production update. Although the company backed its 2019 guidance and saw an upswing in cobalt and copper output, some of its copper sales were affected by the timing of shipments.

Shares in the company dropped 3.25p to 306.2p.

Meanwhile, gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair announced that it was splashing out £101 million to acquire a majority stake in Georgia’s biggest online gaming firm Adjarabet, which has a 40% share of the Georgian market.

Shares closed 115p higher at 6,380p.

But furniture retailer ScS had less taste for acquisitions, declaring that it had pulled out of the race to buy Its withdrawal appeared to leave the way open for rival bidder Mike Ashley to get his hands on the group.

Energy firm SSE announced it will sell a stake in two Scottish wind farms for £635 million to fund a programme to buy back shares in the company from investors.

Up to £200 million of the proceeds will be used to fund the share buy-back programme and the remaining proceeds will be used to reduce SSE’s debt.

SSE shares inched up by 10.5p to close at 1,180.5p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Melrose Industries up 6.2p to 174.85p, Coca-Cola HBC up 77p to 2,635p, CRH up 60p to 2,250p and Croda International up 121p to 4,942p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo down 34.6p to 970.4p, GVC Holdings down 7.5p to 664.5p, Glencore down 3.25p to 306.2p and BT Group down 2.4p to 230p.