LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s major stock index rose on Friday, propped up by Shire and commodity sectors as investors digested a speech by the U.S. Fed chief and the lack of a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks.
After a sluggish start to the session the index climbed and ended with a gain of 0.2 percent at 7,577.49 points, with Shire SHP.L and Antofagasta (ANTO.L) among the top gainers.
The FTSE inched to a 0.3 percent weekly rise in a week the British government set out plans for a possible no-deal Brexit and as sterling hovered near 11-month lows against the euro.
Trade war was still front and centre of investors’ minds after inconclusive talks between U.S. and Chinese officials, and focus turned to a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at Jackson Hole at which Powell reaffirmed rate-hike policy.
Powell’s comments weighed on the dollar, which in turn boosted commodity prices.
Among miners, Antofagasta (ANTO.L) shares were also buoyed 3.6 percent after RBC upgraded it to “outperform”, and as London copper prices recovered, with the metal on course for its best week in four.
“We expect the shares to regain a premium valuation over the coming months possibly enhanced by its copper exposure, which has significantly underperformed iron ore by 10 percent year-to-date,” wrote RBC analysts.
(GRAPHIC: FTSE 100 earnings Aug 24 - reut.rs/2P33Cz1)
Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and BP (BP.L) both gained around 1 percent after a Norwegian government-appointed commission ruled Norway’s sovereign wealth fund should stay invested in energy stocks.
Shire SHP.L shares were up 2 percent after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind drug, Takhzyro, to treat patients suffering from a rare hereditary disease.
The approval was largely expected, according to UBS, but a relief for the market which perceived the drug as very important for Shire’s potential acquisition by Takeda.
“With this morning’s announcement from Shire, the nerves should evaporate.” they wrote.
Housebuilders Persimmon (PSN.L), Berkeley (BKGH.L), Barratt Development (BDEV.L) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) were among the worst-performing after data showed mortgage approvals fell in July despite appetite for remortgaging ahead of an expected Bank of England rate rise.
On the FTSE 250 .FTMC, travel operator On The Beach (OTB.L) was the top gainer after Berenberg upped its price target on the stock, praising its model of not speculatively pre-buying hotel beds or plane seats.
“In a weaker demand environment OTB 1) is not burdened with distressed inventory being sold at a loss; 2) has low fixed overheads; and 3) sees its main cost, online marketing, automatically fall,” wrote Berenberg analysts.
Reporting by Helen Reid and Kit Rees; editing by Andrew Roche