Pound rises on higher hopes of Brexit solution
The FTSE 100 closed at 7,437.06.
The pound rose tentatively against the dollar on Friday after an uneventful week for the currency, despite the extension to the Brexit deadline.
Sterling was up 0.27% at 1.309 US dollars, boosted by apparent cooperation between the major parties over Brexit.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s claim that talks between Labour and the Tories have so far been ‘positive’ and ‘constructive’ did what the Halloween Brexit delay couldn’t and gave the pound a boost on Friday.”
But the currency was down 0.1% versus the euro at 1.159.
The pound’s gains held back the FTSE 100, which climbed 19.11 points, or 0.26%, to 7,437.06.
The French Cac was up 0.3% and the German Dax was down 0.02%.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Markets in Europe have built on last week’s strong gains after this morning’s Chinese trade data saw exports rise to a five month high.
“While some of this jump may well be as a result of a rebound after Chinese New Year, it also suggests that despite concerns about an economic slowdown, that external demand in the global economy, while weaker than a year ago, still remains sufficient to sustain further economic expansion.”
In company news, Bonmarche rebuffed a £5.7 million takeover offer for the womenswear retailer tabled by Philip Day, claiming it “materially undervalues” the company. Shares rose 0.5p to 15.5p.
Games Workshop shares soared 402p higher to 3,712p, as the miniatures retailer said it would post another profit increase this year thanks to solid trading.
Shares in Plus500 crumbled, dropping 224p to 495p, after the broker posted a slump in first-quarter revenue on “subdued” financial markets.
The competition watchdog has found that rat catcher Rentokil’s takeover of Mitie’s pest control unit could restrict choice and lead to higher prices for customers.
Shares in Rentokil closed down 0.9p at 364p, while Mitie was up 2.6p at 122p.
Transport company National Express has picked up a 60% stake in Silicon Valley bus shuttle firm WeDriveU for 84.3 million US dollars (£64.5 million). The stock closed 2.4p higher at 414p.
Several placings also affected stocks on the London market.
Entertainment One shares dropped 23.8p to 453p as it raised around £130 million in a placing.
Pets At Home was also down, dropping 23.2p to 140p, after Canada Pension Plan agreed to sell its 10.8% stake.
Oil prices were higher due to the positive economic data from China, while the continued issues facing supply from Venezuela and Libya kept estimates of supply tight.
A barrel of Brent crude oil was trading 0.7% higher at 71.46 US dollars.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Standard Chartered up 22.8p to 672.2p, DS Smith up 11.3p to 355.6p, Glencore up 9.75p to 332.45p and Smurfit Kappa Group up 58p to 2,310p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Relx down 26.5p to 1,640.5p, Halma down 27p to 1,720p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 24p to 1,760p and Next down 60p to 5,616p.