Traders handed pre-Christmas present with five-day winning streak

The FTSE 100 capped off a week of growth with another positive, but slow, showing on Friday, as the markets prepared for the Christmas trading period.

Coming down off major post-election gains at the end of last week, the FTSE closed Friday up 0.11%, or 8.66 points, to 7582.48.

It represents a 2.5% rise since the markets opened on Monday.

“The FTSE’s rally showed signs of running out of steam approaching the weekend,” said analyst Fiona Cincotta.

It comes as MPs on Friday afternoon passed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill, setting a January 31 date for the UK to leave the European Union.

But markets were largely unaffected, having already expected the vote to be a success for Mr Johnson.

Sterling rose 0.33% against the dollar to 1.3047. Against the euro it was up a little more, 0.7%, to 1.1776. The currency was boosted by a revision to official growth figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the British economy grew by 0.4% in the last three months. Previous estimates had put the figure at 0.3%.

“With the pound down over 2% across the week, today’s vote had been fully priced in, explaining why the reaction from sterling today was minimal. Instead sterling is riding higher following the better-than-forecast GDP release earlier in the session,” Ms Cincotta said.

In company news, the board of Just Eat is backing a plan to merge with Dutch firm Takeaway.com, as a bidding war for the British food delivery giant reaches its final stages.

The company said it would support a new offer from Takeaway of 916p per share after it and rival suitor Prosus made their final bids on Thursday.

Neil Woodford’s last remaining fund will be taken over by Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI), administrators have announced.

The investment giant has agreed a deal to control the £267 million Income Focus fund, two months after it was frozen by administrator Link Fund Solutions.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has said it expects to be hit by an impairment of up to 2.3 billion US dollars (£1.8 billion) for the year.

In a trading update on Friday, it also marginally trimmed back its forecast for quarterly oil production sales and said it has seen “marginally lower” margins in its chemicals business.

Stonegate’s £1.28 billion acquisition of rival pub firm Ei Group appears to have moved closer after it offered the competition watchdog undertakings to address concerns over the deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said “there are reasonable grounds” for believing that Stonegate’s undertakings, or a modified version, could “remedy” its fears.

The price of international oil standard Brent crude dropped 0.89% to 65.99 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Carnival, up 229p to 3,587.00p, Reckitt Benckiser, up 211p to 6,180.00p, Scottish Mortgage, up 14p to 572.50p, Hiscox, up 34p to 1,419.00p, and Astrazeneca, up 174p to 7,808.00p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were NMC Healthcare, down 236p to 1,300.50p, Barclays, down 4.96p to 178.42p, Lloyds, down 1.59p to 62.33p, Land Securities, down 20.2p to 942.60p, and Standard Chartered, down 15.4p to 723.20p.

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