By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
London stocks traded higher Friday, but underperformed other European regional indexes due to a strong British pound.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.7182% climbed 0.8% to $1.3096, while the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.30% rose 0.3% to 7,655.53. Many of the top companies in the FTSE 100 generate the bulk of revenue outside of Britain, so their stock prices rise when sterling falls.
Volumes are expected to be thin on Friday, as many traders may stretch the Christmas break into the weekend, and may not return until after the New Year holiday.
Reports of blockbuster holiday sales from Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.51% helped drive all three main U.S. indexes to record closes on Thursday, with the Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.05% closing above 9,000 for the first time. U.S. stock futures pointed to potentially more records for Friday.
Separately, data from China revealed industrial profits improved in November. Mining stocks, sensitive to news from China, rose. Shares of Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +1.78% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +3.97% rose 1.3% and Anglo American PLC /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL +2.50% gained 1.4%.
Banks, oil and pharmaceutical stocks were also higher. Shares of HSBC Holdings Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC +1.80% gained 1% and BP PLC /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP -1.14% /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +4.10% rose 0.9%. GlaxoSmithKline PLC /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK -0.99% added 0.9%.