FTSE 100 ekes out end of week gains

The FTSE 100 struggled for direction on Friday, but manged to end in positive territory following two days of losses.

London’s top flight ended the day up 22.81 points, or 0.32%, at 7,049.8.

The index was helped by the likes of consumer goods giants Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever, which were riding high off the back of solid results from US peer Proctor and Gamble.

Unilever shares closed up 124p at 4,110.5p while Reckitt Benckiser ended 243p higher at 6,714p.

Another high flyer was London Stock Exchange Group itself, which announced it is to fork out 438 million euros (£384 million) to up its stake in British clearing house LCH, despite uncertainty over the regulation of euro clearing contracts post-Brexit.

The group said on Friday that it plans to acquire an additional stake of up to 15.1% in the business, bringing its total holding to over 80%.

In addition, third quarter earnings showed a 5% rise in reported revenue to £464 million and an 8% jump in total income to £522 million.

Investors warmed to the news, sending shares 105p higher to 4,391p at the close.

At the other end of the index, airlines were suffering after a broker note pointed to headwinds including higher fuel costs and weaker demand weighing on margins.

British Airways owner IAG and EasyJet were among the casualties, with both ending in the red.

EasyJet was propping up the FTSE 100 after shares dropped 72p to 1,068p and IAG was down 18.4p at 557p.

On the FTSE 250, Intu Properties finished top of the pile after a consortium of investors upped its takeover approach, valuing the company at around £2.8 billion.

Peel Group, the Olayan Group and Brookfield Property Group revised an initial proposal of 205p per share up to 215p, following engagement with Intu’s directors.

The news sent shares soaring to 200p, a rise of 22.3p, or 12.55%.

Sterling, meanwhile, managed to hold steady despite the Brexit impasse showing no signs of disappearing.

The pound was up 0.2% versus the US dollar at 1.304 and down by the same amount against the euro at 1.133.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Given the amount of negative Brexit headlines this week, the pound hasn’t performed too badly.

“It is modestly lower against most of its peers however given the fact that mutterings of a ‘no deal’ outcome have increased it has held up rather well, probably as a result of more encouraging economic data.

“This reinforces the perception that the pound is trading at a significant political discount due to the antics of our esteemed politicians.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.31% and France’s CAC was down 0.63%.

A barrel of Brent crude was changing hands at 80.3 US dollars, an increase of 1.2%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Reckitt Benckiser up 243p at 6,714p, GlaxoSmithKline up 47p at 1,157.6p, Unilever up 124p at 4,110.5p and Diageo up 76.5p at 2,701p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were EasyJet down 72p at 1,068p, Evraz down 29.4p at 523.6p, DS Smith down 18.8p at 385.1p and Barratt Developments down 22.6p at 491.6p.