By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
London’s main stock index was headed for its third straight week of gains, rising modestly on Friday after data that showed strength in retail sales, and continued hopes for progress in U.S.-China trade talks.
The biggest mover of the day was financial firm Standard Life Aberdeen PLC, dropping on a share sale.
How are markets performing?
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.97% rose 0.4% to 7,227.12, after finishing flat on Thursday. For the week, the index is set to rise 2.2%, marking a third week of gains.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0368% edged up to $1.2822 from $1.2802 late in New York on Thursday.
What’s driving the markets?
Trade talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up on Friday with the White House citing progress toward a memorandum of understanding that could lead to a trade deal, and plans to continue the discussions next week. That news was helping lift U.S. stock futures and could help Wall Street recover from Thursday losses triggered by the biggest drop in retail sales in nine years.
“Negative sentiment concerning trade issues will almost certainly cast a dark cloud over the natural resources industry and so it is that London-listed miners and oil stocks are the main contributors to the FTSE’s negative performance on Friday,” says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
Meanwhile in the U.K., retail sales rebounded in January driven by clothing and footwear and as stores cut their prices. That comes after a drop in December, which sparked worries about consumers holding back on spending owing to Brexit worries.
Embattled Prime Minister Theresa May suffered fresh rejection in parliament after pro-Brexit politicians refused to support her strategy in the withdrawal from the European Union. Meanwhile, data showed investment in property in the City of London slumped 75% in January from a year ago, with deals stymied by Brexit worries.
What shares were active?
Standard Life /zigman2/quotes/200883281/delayed UK:SLA -1.17% shares slumped over 7% after Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc /zigman2/quotes/207520099/delayed JP:8306 -0.64% unloaded its entire 5.9% stake in the asset manager for 349.3 million pounds ($448.0 million).
Retailer Marks & Spencer Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS +1.09% was another loser, dropping 2%, while National Grid PLC fell around 2% as well.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC said Friday that its 2018 profit rose sharply and it will pay a special dividend, but warned that Brexit uncertainty is putting its medium-term cost targets at risk. Shares rose 1% in London.