By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
U.K.’s blue-chip stocks rose on Friday, logging a seventh straight weekly gain, as miners rallied and ITV PLC extending gains following its well-received earnings report.
Rounding off a busy week of M&As was a takeover deal of ZPG PLC, the owner of property website Zoopla, for more than £2 billion.
How markets are moving
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.74% ended 0.3% higher at 7,724.55, logging its highest close since Jan. 23.
For the week, the London benchmark climbed 2.1%. That means the index now has risen for seven straight weeks, which marks its longest weekly winning run since July 2005, when the market rose for eight straight weeks.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0484% traded at $1.3542, up from $1.3519 late Thursday in New York. Against the euro, sterling /zigman2/quotes/210561278/realtime/sampled GBPEUR 0.0000% bought €1.1346 compared with €1.1345 in the prior session.
What’s driving markets
The FTSE 100 has recently been aided by a pullback in the pound, which was still headed for a 0.1% weekly loss, even with Friday’s slight rebound. A weaker pound tends to bolster the equity benchmark as its large multinational companies make most of their revenue and earnings overseas.
Sterling is now down 4.5% over the last month alone, sold off after a string of disappointing economic data and the Bank of England’s decision to keep rates on hold on Thursday.
Just in April, traders were pricing in an almost 90% chance of a rate rise at the BOE meeting on Thursday, but that probability had dwindled to around 10% ahead of the decision. As expected, the central bank made no changes to monetary policy and provided a somewhat confusing outlook for the future rate path. Some analysts said an August rate increase could still take place, depending on U.K. economic data which recently has fallen short of expectations.
On Friday, the FTSE was lifted by a rally for miners, with shares of Randgold Resources Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201432642/composite GOLD +0.32% leading the charge for the sector with a 3.8% gain.
What are strategists saying?
There are “fairly stretched readings on most technical indicators” for the FTSE 100, wrote Bill McNamara in his daily The Technical Trader newsletter. “Although this does not amount to a sell signal per se it does imply, however, that the scope for further upside in the near-term has become limited and the chances of a pull-back of some sort have increased.”
ITV PLC /zigman2/quotes/205378065/delayed UK:ITV +2.51% rose 7.3%, topping the FTSE 100, extending Thursday’s 6.1% jump after the broadcaster posted a 5% increase in total external revenue for the first quarter.
Off the main benchmark, ZPG PLC shares rallied 31% to 490 pence after the owner of property-listed websites Zoopla and PrimeLocation, among other brands, agreed to be purchased by U.S. private-equity firm Silver Lake for £2.2 billion ($2.99 billion). The offer of 490 pence a share in cash is a 31% premium over ZPG’s closing price Thursday of 375.20 pence.
“Silver Lake is the global leader in technology investing and I am firmly of the belief that ZPG will benefit from their technology expertise and global network which will help accelerate our growth,” said ZPG’s founder and Chief Executive Alex Chesterman in a statement.
John Wood Group PLC bounced up 10% as the energy-services company posted an upbeat first-quarter trading statement.