July 13, 2018 / 9:06 AM / 5 months ago

FTSE off highs as sterling boost softens

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index ended off earlier highs on Friday, as the pound recovered after Donald Trump said he looked forward to finalising a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain.

FILE PHOTO: A broker looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index the trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The U.S. President’s remarks curbed gains for the FTSE to 0.1 percent. The index, which is heavy on companies with foreign currency revenues, was earlier up as much as 0.8 percent after a Trump interview that appeared to dismiss hopes of a U.S.-British trade deal, depressing the pound.

“The markets began to flatten out as the week wrapped up, the pound recovering some of its early losses as Trump appeared to row back from the aggressive stance taken against Theresa May’s Brexit plans,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

As sterling reduced its losses, the FTSE’s dollar-earnings constituents such as consumer stocks Diageo, British American Tobacco and Unilever came off highs. BAT and Unilever ended little changed.

Worries over global trade have kept the FTSE trading in a narrow range throughout June and into July, as investors have weighed the implications for global growth and equity markets of tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by the United States and China.

For the week, the FTSE rose 0.6 percent.

While the corporate earnings season has yet to get properly under way in Europe, a few British companies saw their shares move on the back of updates.

DCC was a top gainer, up 3.6 percent after the support services company’s first quarter trading update, in which it reaffirmed its full year guidance.

Analysts at Davy pointed to acquisitions in the United States and Britain made by DCC’s technology operating segment.

“The highlight of today’s Q1 release is DCC Technology’s acquisitions of Stampede and Kondor, both in attractive growth areas and the former representing the division’s first move into the U.S. and Canadian markets,” Davy Research analysts said in a note.

On the mid cap index, shares in UK recruiter Hays were the biggest risers with a gain of more than 8 percent.

Investors were cheered after Hays said that it expected its full-year operating profit to exceed market expectations, with analysts at Jefferies noting that the company was also on track for a special dividend.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Keith Weir and Peter Graff

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