London close: FTSE 100 rises amid BP bid speculation, BT's Openreach solution
Stocks in London ended Friday higher with BP gaining on bid speculation and BT Group surging after it reached an Opeanreach solution with regulator Ofcom.
At the end of trade, the FTSE 100 was up 0.38% or 28.12 points to 7,343.08 and the FTSE 250 was up 0.37% or 69.88 points at 18,961.42.
"Stock markets spent most of Friday in positive territory," said Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group.
He said investors were still unwilling to bet against higher prices despite strong odds of a rate increase in the US next week.
Wall St got off to a positive start thanks to reassuring US non-farm payrolls data, with indices in Europe plotting a similar course.
In London, the FTSE 350 indices for oil-related, industrial metals and fixed-line telecoms stocks were all markedly higher.
Earlier in the session, UK's manufacturing output for January fell more than expected, but industrial output was broadly in line, and that for construction beat forecasts.
UK's trade deficit in goods and services was unchanged at £2.0bn for January, versus a consensus for a deficit of £3.1bn.
Meantime, BT's rally followed an agreement with Ofcom to legally separate its Openreach arm, albeit under pressure from the regulator and apparently ending the long-running issue.
The telco was followed up by gains in oil majors BP and Shell, the latter after issuing a disclosure on its CFO's remuneration package and on rejuvenated bid speculation.
"BP is now, apparently, in play as a bid target, as ExxonMobil is reported to be circling," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp in a statement.
"With the oil outlook much more positive (at least until the plunge in crude prices this week), the British icon looks more attractive once the weaker pound is taken into account."
The oil pair's rise was against a cloth of further falls in oil prices -- due to rising US stores, a global glut and questions over Opec output cuts -- and also the US dollar.
Friday evening brings with it Baker Hughes's latest weekly tally of US oil rigs, which might impact further on already tense oil market trading.
The dollar's fall followed solid US non-farm payroll numbers, these keeping the Fed on track to lift interest rates next Wednesday. But thereafter the course is less certain.
Lawler opined that the US job growth made a rate hike at next week's Fed meeting a near certainty, in a view shared by other market watchers.
Several, such as Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets UK, chimed in with a note of caution.
"Going forward (beyond March), it is the path of future rate hikes which is of significant importance, and that will drive the dollar," said Aslam.
February’s non-farm payroll rose to 238,000 from 227,000 the previous month and above the 200,000 consensus forecast. The net revision was 9,000.
Returning to UK trade, Hikma Pharmaceuticals made modest gains after its US subsidiary launched the anti-depression tablets Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine Succinate).
Leisure stock Merlin Entertainments nudged higher on a proposed offering of €200m 2.75% senior notes dues in 2022.
Commercial property company Intu was out of favour on confirming the €530m acquisition of Xanadu Shopping Centre in Madrid, Spain.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BT Group (BT.A) 342.45p 3.71%
BP (BP.) 470.70p 3.68%
Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) 8,815.00p 2.26%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,855.00p 1.63%
Carnival (CCL) 4,561.00p 1.63%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 266.40p 1.52%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 234.20p 1.47%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,307.00p 1.36%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,209.50p 1.35%
Tesco (TSCO) 189.00p 1.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Intu Properties (INTU) 277.50p -1.67%
British Land Company (BLND) 612.50p -1.53%
Hammerson (HMSO) 581.00p -1.44%
SSE (SSE) 1,503.00p -1.38%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,845.00p -1.30%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,911.00p -1.26%
WPP (WPP) 1,701.00p -1.22%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 592.00p -1.17%
Sage Group (SGE) 646.00p -1.15%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,040.00p -1.14%
FTSE 250 - Risers
esure Group (ESUR) 240.00p 7.87%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 146.90p 5.46%
Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) 489.20p 4.06%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 162.40p 3.90%
John Laing Group (JLG) 261.90p 3.81%
Paysafe Group (PAYS) 443.60p 3.74%
Berendsen (BRSN) 807.50p 3.73%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 238.00p 3.48%
Essentra (ESNT) 565.00p 3.29%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 251.20p 3.29%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Aldermore Group (ALD) 223.30p -7.38%
SEGRO (SGRO) 468.60p -5.64%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 382.30p -4.67%
Ibstock (IBST) 204.30p -4.20%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 935.50p -3.06%
IP Group (IPO) 157.60p -2.29%
Capital & Counties Properties (CAPC) 285.00p -1.96%
Derwent London (DLN) 2,702.00p -1.89%
Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 143.30p -1.85%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 711.50p -1.52%