FTSE 100 ends week on a high as positive sentiment helps push up stocks

The FTSE 100 joined global stock markets in posting solid gains on Friday as a rebound in US jobs data and positive trade news helped boost sentiment.

London’s top flight closed up 44.93 points, or 0.61%, at 7,446.87.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC, said: “The reasonably positive US non-farm payrolls report, combined with continued optimism surrounding the US-China trade talks has helped stock markets.

“The US jobs report won’t upset the apple cart in terms of Federal Reserve monetary policy, and given the lack of negative news out of Europe today, sentiment was given a boost.”

Traders were given impetus by figures showing the US labour market rebounded in March, with the number of jobs created standing at 196,000 following an increase of 33,000 in February.

In stocks, housebuilders Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Berkeley Homes came under pressure as Halifax figures showed house prices fell by 1.6% month-on-month in March.

Across the UK, the average house price was £233,181 last month, 2.6% higher than a year earlier, Halifax said.

Persimmon shares closed down 21p at 2,225p, Berkeley Group down 66p at 3,777p and Barratt Developments down 9.8p at 616p.

On the FTSE 250, GVC shares were on the rise after the bookmaker said it was on track to deliver double-digit growth in its online business this year, after it posted strong growth in the first quarter.

Net gaming revenue (NGR) for online was up 17% in the three months to March 31. This comprised 16% growth in sports betting, while gaming was up 20%.

Chief executive Kenny Alexander said the results showed a continuing “strong trend” and represented an “excellent start to the year”.

Shares closed up 5p at 588p.

On AIM, Purplebricks took a knock after analysts downgraded the online estate agent and said it would have to raise fresh cash.

Berenberg warned in a research note that the group should either give up on its international expansion plans or raise more funding as it slashed its rating from buy to sell.

It cited a slowdown in Purplebricks’ core UK market, as well as tough conditions in Australia and the US.

It also lowered its target price for shares to 80p from 470p.

Shares closed down 8.4p, or 6%, at 127.6p.

In currency, the pound was on the back foot as Theresa May officially requested an extension from the EU to June 30.

Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at City Index, said: “With EU president Donald Tusk favouring an extension of a year and France playing hardball, Theresa May’s request is likely to be rebuffed.”

Sterling was down 0.4% versus the US dollar at 1.301 at the London market close, while the British currency shed 0.4% against the euro at 1.160.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.18% and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.23%.

A barrel of Brent crude was changing hands for 69 US dollars, an increase of almost 1%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Prudential up 44p at 1,680.5p, Rolls-Royce up 22.8p at 926.8p, NMC Health up 62p at 2,526p and Anglo American up 47p at 2,184.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Vodafone down 3.12p at 141.34p, Berkeley Group down 66p at 3,777p, Barratt Developments down 9.8p at 616p and BT down 3.15p at 223.85p.

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