U.K. stocks ended a volatile session marginally higher, scoring a seventh straight win as analysts questioned how much steam the index has left.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.65% rose 1.31 points, or just 0.02%, to end at 6,916.02, leaving the index 1.8% higher for the week. The seven-session win streak is its longest since an eight-day run in October 2015.
However, questions lingered about the scope for future gains as the index approaches important technical barriers.
“The question now is whether the blue chip index can power on to break the psychologically important 7,000 barrier,” said Neil Wilson, markets analyst at ETX Capital.
He said investors are hungry for U.K. equities as they hunt for yield against a backdrop of “a weak pound and collapsing bond yields,” he said, in a note to clients. The Bank of England ran into a purchasing shortfall on Tuesday as it could only find £1.12 billion ($1.45 billion) in debt maturing 15 years or longer. The central has ramped up stimulus efforts in the wake of the June Brexit vote.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561278/realtime/sampled GBPEUR -0.2299% continued to slide on Friday, dropping to €1.1576, a fresh post-Brexit low and the weakest its been against the euro since August 2013. Against the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.4871% , sterling fell to $1.2934, down from $1.2956 late Thursday in New York.
Still, Wilson said, investors may ultimately find stocks are a bit pricey, and earnings will need to pick up to cover dividend payouts.
Multiple blasts hit southern Thailand
A series of bomb blasts shook southern Thailand late Thursday and early Friday, with the beach resort of Hua Hin hit particularly hard.
Movers: Stocks in the mining sector were leading decliners, as precious and industrial metals prices largely moved lower on Friday. A swath of China data missed expectations, including industrial output, and retail sales. China is a major importer of natural resources.
BHP Billiton PLC /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -2.44% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +0.30% fell 1.5%, Glencore PLC /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN -1.79% /zigman2/quotes/209462106/delayed GLCNF -1.97% dropped 1.9% and Anglo American PLC /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL -3.11% lost 3.2%.
Shares of Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -2.94% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -2.85% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.56% fell 3.2% after the head of Rio Tinto PLC’s iron-ore business, Chris Salisbury, said in a memo to staff on Friday that a proposed tax increase on its operations in Western Australia could result in further cuts to jobs and investment.
Betting group William Hill PLC rose 1.5%. The company said Thursday that a merger proposal from rivals Rank Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/200887572/delayed UK:RNK -1.67% and 888 Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/206991878/delayed UK:888 -1.17% lacked merit.
Shares of FTSE 250 company Restaurant Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/207518837/delayed UK:RTN +0.17% shot up 11% after news Chief Executive Danny Breithaupt is stepping down and will be replaced by Andy McCue, who was recently the chief executive at Paddy Power Betfair PLC .
Economic docket: U.K. construction output data for June showed a 0.9% drop versus May and was down 2.2% over a year ago.