By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
The U.K.’s main equity gauge posted a sharp gain Friday as a rally in the tech-sector cheered investors, and Mondi PLC and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC produced upbeat quarterly results. However, the rally fell short of erasing a weekly loss for the British benchmark.
How markets are performing
The British blue-chip gauge registered a weekly loss of 0.6%—its steepest weekly decline since the period ended June 29.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -1.0410% was buying $1.3023, up slightly from $1.3014 late Thursday in New York.
What’s moving markets
There was pressure on equities around the world in the prior session, after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration late Wednesday confirmed that it was considering more than doubling proposed tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%.
But the main U.S. stock indexes /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.51% shook off trade-related fears and mostly closed higher Thursday on the back of tech titan Apple Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.44% rally to a market cap above $1 trillion, and other major stock markets appeared to be following suit Friday.
On the Brexit front, Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney warned Friday that there is an “uncomfortably high” chance of the U.K. crashing out of the European Union without a transition agreement, which could rattle the economy.
Traders may react to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s planned meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in France on Friday. French officials reportedly have said the rendezvous isn’t a negotiation, and it doesn’t take the place of Brexit talks led by the European Union’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
A disappointing July figure for U.K. services also was getting some attention Friday. Markit’s services purchasing-manager index came in at 53.5, below expectations for a reading of 54.7, according to FactSet data.
In addition, investors digested a U.S. monthly jobs report, which came in weaker than expected, showing that 157,000 jobs were created in July, compared with economists polled by MarketWatch for gains of 195,000 jobs in July. Still, the reading, with unemployment slipping to 3.9% from 4% in the prior month and increases to earlier months, did little to suggest that the world’s largest economy wasn’t healthy.
What are strategists saying?
• “A rising Apple share price helped lift all boats,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note Friday, referring to the U.S. stock market’s rebound.
Stocks in focus
Shares in Mondi /zigman2/quotes/208046754/delayed UK:MNDI -3.17% soared 7.9% for the FTSE 100’s biggest gain after the packaging and paper company reported a higher first-half pretax profit and raised its dividend.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA’s stock /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG -1.00% fell by 2.2% after the British Airways parent said second-quarter profit rose, but passenger unit revenue for the quarter declined.
IAG CEO Willie Walsh also said the company would sell its small stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA /zigman2/quotes/204014691/delayed NO:NAS -5.40% if its efforts to acquire the budget carrier fail. Norwegian Air shares gained 1.2%.
Over in the mid-cap FTSE 250, shares of William Hill PLC /zigman2/quotes/201135907/delayed UK:WMH +7.27% slumped by 8.1%. The British bookmaker swung to a pretax loss as it booked a charge related to a cap on stakes on betting terminals.
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