London close: FTSE ahead on sterling weakness, gold's gains
(ShareCast News) - Stocks in London closed higher on the back of sterling weakness caused by displeasing UK data this morning, and helped by a rally in gold after the US launched a missile strike on an airbase in Syria which was behind an alleged chemical-weapons attack.
Details of a deadly alleged terror attack in Stockholm, Sweden, were emerging. A truck reportedly drove into a pedestrian area, with early reports having the death toll as at least three with many more injured.
The FTSE 100 closed Friday up 0.63% to 7,349.37, and the FTSE 250 was up 0.54% to 19,229.69. Office for National Statistics data showed UK industrial and manufacturing production worsened unexpectedly in February, along with construction activity fell sharply.
Over in the US, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all slightly slipping as startled traders tried to reconcile a surprisingly low reading on US non-farm payrolls for March with a large and unexpected drop in the unemployment rate.
In Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 and the Cac 40 rose as the Dax fell. Debt-laden Greece has reached a deal on economic reforms with creditors over its €86bn bailout.
"European stocks have undergone a mixed session with the FTSE 100 outperforming, led higher by the oil and gas sector and gold mining stocks," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
"Initial nervousness over the US Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on Syria has given way to a realisation that away from the usual shadow boxing of diplomatic tit for tat, this morning's actions look likely to have been a one-off," he said.
The Syria airstrike and the alleged Stockholm terror attack served to shift attention from the two-day presidential meet between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, of the US and China.
"Participants were already jittery ahead of the Trump-Xi summit and this fresh development may compound to the horrible cocktail of uncertainty," said FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga.
Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Nicholas Hyett said investors' dash for defensives spelled good news for gold specialists such as Randgold and Fresnillo. However, industrial metals specialists Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta fell.
"That reflects a fall in iron ore prices, sparked by a combination of investors moving away from risker assets and Australian government research suggesting that prices will fall throughout 2017 as Chinese demand softens," said Hyett.
In terms of sectors, oil, utilities and commercial property all performed well, but financials and house builders fared poorly.
In corporate news, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust agreed to raise a total of £125m in long term, fixed rate, senior, unsecured private placement notes, denominated in sterling.
Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life got a boost after rating upgrades from RBC Capital Markets, while defence stocks were led higher by BAE Systems. Supermarkets got a lift after UBS upgraded Morrison.
Wolseley completed the partial divestment of Tobler, its Swiss plumbing and heating business, on Friday. Tobler merged with Swiss heating and air conditioning systems rival Walter Meier.
Smiths Group completed its buy of Morpho Detection after getting clearance for the deal on 31 March from the US Department of Justice.
Intertek Group completed the acquisition of KJ Tech Services GmbH, a provider of vehicle, component, lubrication and fuel testing services based in Germany.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,349.37 0.63%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,229.69 0.54%
techMARK (TASX) 3,437.25 0.43%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,390.00p 4.01%
Standard Life (SL.) 368.70p 3.63%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 261.80p 2.91%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,773.00p 2.66%
BAE Systems (BA.) 650.00p 2.52%
Tesco (TSCO) 189.70p 2.43%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 699.50p 2.34%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 7,387.00p 2.03%
British Land Company (BLND) 648.00p 1.89%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,624.00p 1.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,043.00p -1.60%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,233.00p -0.96%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 63.02p -0.90%
Shire Plc (SHP) 4,562.50p -0.89%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,884.00p -0.79%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,484.00p -0.72%
BT Group (BT.A) 312.05p -0.68%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 741.70p -0.60%
Barclays (BARC) 215.30p -0.51%
Next (NXT) 4,023.00p -0.47%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Cairn Energy (CNE) 219.20p 7.93%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 225.40p 6.22%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 277.70p 3.89%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,129.00p 3.80%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 330.90p 3.76%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 467.30p 3.38%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 184.70p 3.07%
Cobham (COB) 141.40p 2.91%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,063.00p 2.71%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 189.00p 2.55%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 238.50p -5.36%
Allied Minds (ALM) 168.20p -3.89%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 1,876.00p -2.69%
Rank Group (RNK) 209.20p -2.43%
Redefine International (RDI) 36.88p -2.38%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 695.00p -2.25%
Marshalls (MSLH) 358.30p -2.18%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 167.20p -2.05%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 648.00p -1.89%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 192.60p -1.83%