Late surge in sterling holds back FTSE 100 gains
The FTSE 100 closed at 7,380.64.
Gains in the FTSE 100 were pared back on Friday after a last-minute surge from the pound, as markets finished up for the week.
London’s blue-chip index closed 29.33 points, or 0.4%, higher at 7,380.64.
It marked a smaller gain compared to earlier in the day, when the index was up by almost 0.8%.
The German Dax was up 0.55% and the French Cac increased by 0.18%.
London’s multinationals had their gains reduced by a late rise in sterling.
By the end of the day, the pound was 0.71% higher against the euro at 1.175 and climbed 0.86% versus the US dollar to 1.314.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: “The currency’s growth may be related to the local election results, one that say big losses for the Tories and Labour and significant gains for overtly pro-Remain parties like the Lib Dems and Greens.”
Sterling also benefited from a weaker dollar, as traders digested the latest US jobs data. Meanwhile fresh figures on Britain’s services output showed a return to growth in the sector.
On the oil markets, prices recovered following Thursday’s decline. A barrel of Brent Crude oil was trading at 71.36 US dollars, up 1.48%.
In company news, HSBC posted better-than-expected first quarter profits as the banking giant was boosted by the performance of its retail banking and wealth management units.
Its shares rose by 12.9p to 680.6p.
Shares in retail stockbroker Share plc were higher after it became the subject of a takeover approach by rival Interactive Investor Services.
The stock gained 4p to close at 34.5p.
Takeover target Provident said it would ramp up cost-cutting measures as it continues to battle a £1.3 billion hostile approach from rival Non-Standard Finance (NSF).
Shares jumped 5.4p to 517.8p.
Shopping centres owner Intu said it is braced for a “challenging” 2019 amid a rise in company voluntary arrangements among troubled retailers, as new chief Matthew Roberts set out his strategy to reduce debts.
The warning weighed on the stock, knocking off 4.1p to take it down to 96.1p.
MySale, the online group backed by Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley, sold British website Cocosa.co.uk in a £1.5 million deal to fashion retailer BrandAlley.
The business was the group’s main British trading website, and the sale marks part of its plan to exit the region to focus on its core markets in Australia and New Zealand.
Shares dipped 0.38p to 13.2p.
InterContinental Hotels Group reported a slowdown in revenue growth for the first quarter. The Holiday Inn owner said that revenue per average room rose 0.3% at constant exchange rates in the three months to March 31.
Shares dropped by 54p to 4,944p.
Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments said that trading since the end of February was quiet but in line with expectations, pushing its share price up by 3.7p to 368.6p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smith & Nephew up 50p to 1,569p, Ocado Group up 35p to 1,380.5p, Anglo American up 45.2p to 1,980.8p and HSBC Holdings up 12.9p to 680.6p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Easyjet down 24p to 1,117p, IAG down 11p to 525p, Hiscox down 32p to 1,628p, and Carnival down 67p to 4,013p.