By Barbara Kollmeyer
London’s main stock index was poised for the best session in weeks, as investors took fresh Brexit news in stride and heavily weighted drugmakers posted gains.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.40% rose 1.4% to 5,914.23, but was set for a weekly loss of around 1.7%. After bouncing around on Brexit headlines, the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.2144% steadied at $1.2906 against the dollar, but is facing a 1% loss for the week.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said the country needs to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, after negotiations with the European Union this week failed to produce major progress on a deal.
“We knew before these statements that the U.K. and EU will continue to talk and work toward a deal. Boris wants to talk tough and ramp [up] the ‘no deal’ rhetoric but it’s for the crowds — talks are ongoing,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, in a note to clients.
Among companies on the move, shares of International Consolidated Airlines /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG +0.76% led the decliners in London, dropping nearly 3% after British Airways, which the company operates along with several others, was slapped with a record £20 million fine by data watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The fine stems from a cyberattack at British Airways in 2018, which wasn’t detected for more than two months and led to the exposure of the personal and financial data of more than 400,000 customers.
“Their failure to act was unacceptable and affected hundreds of thousands of people, which may have caused some anxiety and distress as a result. That’s why we have issued BA with a £20m fine — our biggest to date,” said the ICO.
But the FTSE 100 was held up by gains for shares of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK -0.43% , which climbed nearly 2% , while Relx /zigman2/quotes/207159628/delayed UK:REL -0.16% , a provider of information-based analytics and decision tools, rose 3%, and global information services group Experian /zigman2/quotes/210252954/delayed UK:EXPN +0.85% gained 3.6%.
Among FTSE 250 /zigman2/quotes/210598417/delayed UK:MCX +0.33% companies, shares of J.D. Wetherspoons /zigman2/quotes/209658419/delayed UK:JDW +0.55% slumped 17%, after the pub owner said it swung to a loss for fiscal 2020 and that like-for-like sales fell 11% in the first 11 weeks of fiscal 2021. Fellow pub group Marston’s /zigman2/quotes/203821737/delayed UK:MARS -0.70% fell sharply on Thursday, after it said more than 2,000 jobs were at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Pubs and restaurants in the U.K. continue to suffer from pandemic-related loss of business. London this week joined several other European cities facing fresh coronavirus restrictions , as cases have climbed.