Britain’s major share index recovered on Friday after a pullback in the previous session, marching towards its fourth straight week of gains as investors focused on underlying earnings growth and better economic data. The FTSE 100 was up 0.5 percent by 0900 GMT, on track for its fourth straight week of gains, though this week’s performance was dented by worries over the Trump administration that have sent stocks tumbling across the globe.
Investors looked through the political uncertainty to a better earnings season and improved British retail sales data on Thursday which pointed to a brighter outlook for consumer-facing stocks. “Generally earnings have been better than expected,” said Laura Foll, head of the UK equity fund at Henderson.
“The retail sales data that came out yesterday was slightly higher than people were expecting, so there’s also some relief after the March data which was quite weak.” Blue-chips hovered just below the fresh record high set on Tuesday. While flows data shows investors have been piling into European equities, with a preference for the region accentuated since the French election, British stocks could be snubbed due to Brexit fears bubbling under the surface.
“The UK hasn’t benefited from the inflows that Europe has,” said Foll. Builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey were among top gainers, after Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to build 1.5 million new homes by 2022 in the Conservative party manifesto unveiled on Thursday. Miners Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American underpinned gains on the index, up 1.2 to 1.7 percent.
While a broad-based recovery pushed the FTSE higher, some stocks saw big losses. Hikma shares fell 4.6 percent, the top FTSE loser after it lowered its revenue forecast for the full year to reflect a delay in the launch of its generic asthma drug.
Hikma fell 8 percent last week after U.S. regulators denied approval for the drug, citing “major” issues with the application. The world’s biggest credit data company Experian fell 2.2 percent, set for its third straight session of losses after Jefferies cut the stock to ‘hold’, citing slowing U.S. credit momentum. Experian extended the previous session’s losses, when allegations against Brazil’s president roiled markets and sent it and other stocks exposed to the Latin American country down.
Gold miner Fresnillo gained 2 percent, as the price of the safe haven asset continued to rise, with investors rushing into it among political turbulence in the United States.Among mid-caps, tour operator Thomas Cook Group fell 4.5 percent after Barclays cut the stock to equal weight, citing a strong recent run, challenging market environment and concerns about the UK consumer.