London close: Footsie gains as pound drops, Wall Street hits fresh highs
The top flight index recovered some ground on Friday, but mostly on account of weakness in Sterling after German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly echoed other European Union officials, saying "the most difficult phase is ahead of us".
The FTSE 100 ended up by 0.57% to 7,490.57, while the pound was down 0.87% versus the dollar at 1.3313 and 0.85% weaker against the euro at 1.1306.
The matter to be discussed as early as next week will be the terms of a transition period after the UK leaves in March 2019, which European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also warned would be a "significantly harder" process.
Nevertheless, Markus Huber, a trader at City of London Markets, said the drop in sterling was most likely down to profit-taking.
"Obviously this move by the EU has been expected for a couple of days now and therefore pretty much been priced into the GBP, almost a typical buy the rumour sell the fact situation."
Meanwhile, in the States Wall Street's main stockmarket gauges were all in record territory as investors reacted to news that Republicans on the Hill were busy tweaking their tax cut proposals, in order to secure their passage in the face of opposition from two Senators from within their own ranks, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee.
Likely to irk the Bank of England a little, in parallel the yield on the benchmark 10-year Gilt dropped further below technical support, slipping two basis points to 1.15%.
In corporate news, Standard Life Aberdeen edged higher after the group's first update since its merger was finalised, with outflows lessening year on year.
Sky and BT were both in the black after reaching a deal to sell their channels on each other’s platforms, while Segro was boosted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ at Liberum.
Tritax Big Box edged up after the real estate investment trust agreed terms to extend the maturity on its existing loan facility with Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale.
On the downside, Persimmon retreated after the housebuilder said chairman Nicholas Wrigley will retire following a dispute over an incentive scheme for executive pay.
Aveva stock nudged higher after saying its £3bn agreed merger with Schneider Electric was expected to gain final regulatory approval by mid-February, though the industrial software group was disappointed by a UK tax ruling on the deal.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sky (SKY) 1,018.00p 2.83%
WPP (WPP) 1,389.00p 2.58%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,818.00p 2.42%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,336.00p 2.38%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,419.50p 2.27%
DCC (DCC) 7,230.00p 2.19%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,762.50p 2.10%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 1,462.00p 2.02%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 816.00p 2.00%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,624.50p 1.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
NMC Health (NMC) 2,800.00p -2.37%
Next (NXT) 4,246.00p -2.28%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 609.00p -2.01%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 303.80p -1.78%
Pearson (PSON) 725.00p -1.76%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,894.00p -1.46%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,626.00p -0.98%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 751.50p -0.66%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,417.00p -0.63%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,843.00p -0.59%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 135.60p 5.61%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 142.90p 5.00%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 723.00p 4.78%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 278.20p 3.65%
Workspace Group (WKP) 960.00p 3.50%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 778.50p 3.32%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 1,294.00p 2.94%
Softcat (SCT) 524.50p 2.84%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 854.00p 2.77%
Renewi (RWI) 101.30p 2.58%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Vectura Group (VEC) 106.00p -5.36%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 912.50p -4.00%
Serco Group (SRP) 93.95p -3.84%
Mitie Group (MTO) 192.50p -3.51%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 279.70p -3.39%
Aggreko (AGK) 758.00p -2.82%
Cobham (COB) 121.20p -2.57%
Domino's Pizza Group (DOM) 329.80p -2.57%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 163.70p -2.50%
PayPoint (PAY) 901.00p -2.49%