April 20, 2018 / 9:30 AM / 5 months ago

FTSE 100 set for fourth straight week of gains while Reckitt, Shire tumble

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* FTSE 100 up 0.3 pct

* Sterling, hit by Carney comments, supports exporters

* Reckitt Benckiser tumbles 6 pct to lowest since Aug 2015

* Shire falls after Allergan rules out bid

By Helen Reid

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) - Weaker sterling helped Britain’s FTSE 100 outperform European markets on Friday, while consumer giant Reckitt Benckiser tumbled after disappointing results and Shire declined as Allergan pulled out of the running to acquire the company.

The leading UK stock index was set for its fourth straight week of gains, its longest winning streak since mid-January.

Sterling fell after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney dampened widespread expectations for an interest rate hike in May.

The decline supported export-oriented large-cap stocks, which dominate the FTSE 100. But sterling is still up four percent this year so far, making the multinationals relatively less attractive to investors.

Underneath the index level, earnings continued to set the tone for trading.

Reckitt Benckiser shares fell 6.2 percent after the maker of Dettol products reported sales growth missed expectations including sluggish results at its Scholl footcare brand.

“Scholl continues to be a major drag on growth, suggesting that RB’s issues in this brand are not confined to a “one-off” product failure but are instead more wide-spread, and raises questions on whether RB’s investment into gadgets is the right innovation strategy for the company,” said UBS analysts.

Shire shares fell back 3.4 percent after Allergan ruled out a bid for the company, whose shares have been on a rollercoaster ride as Takeda Pharmaceuticals and other bidders jostle to acquire it.

“It’s disappointing there are not two companies after it, but on the other hand it should spur Shire management to be more proactive and come up with a decent defense and outline their longer term prospects,” said Paul Mumford, fund manager at Cavendish Asset Management.

The drugmaker’s shares had spiked to a more than 8-month high on Thursday after Reuters reported Shire rejected Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ $63 billion offer for the firm.

CRH shares gained 2.3 percent after the Irish building materials company’s CEO told the Irish Times the group was reviewing the possibility of a share buyback and a potential listing of part of its U.S. business.

“We believe the odds of [a U.S. spin-off] remain low given the CEO’s comments around synergies from having a globally integrated group,” said analysts at Davy Research.

Tobacco companies British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands recovered slightly from Thursday’s slump when weak results from Philip Morris in the U.S. dented cigarette makers. The stocks were up 1.4 percent.

They also benefited from the weaker sterling, as they make most of their earnings in foreign markets.

In the FTSE 250, pub operator Greene King was the stand-out faller, down 2.5 percent after Berenberg cut its price target on the stock, reiterating a “sell” rating.

“In our view, the company is having to pedal increasingly hard to maintain current levels of sales across its estate,” said analysts at the German broker.

Reporting by Helen Reid

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