London close: Stocks reverse lunchtime losses to finish higher
Stocks in London reversed their lunchtime losses to finish in the green on Friday, after a top White House official told reporters that a US-China trade deal was "near", assuaging some investors' concerns of a potential 'false dawn' in negotiations.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.14% at 7,302.94, and the FTSE 250 was ahead 0.85% at 20,404.40.
In currencies, the pound was last 0.21% stronger on the dollar at $1.2909, while it was 0.06% weaker on the euro at €1.1679.
“Larry Kudlow is the latest US official to express optimism over a deal, although issues clearly exist around tariffs and Chinese purchases, not to mention when and where any deal will be signed,” said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
"A signing ceremony this year looks difficult at this stage but investors are being swept up by the positive words regardless."
That good news was offset by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's announcement of his intention to nationalise part of BT Group should his party win the general election, as well as by rival proposals from Labour and the Conservatives to raise the UK minimum wage, with the latter sparking a call for prudence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Corbyn said he wanted to nationalise BT Group's fixed line network, to give all Britons free access to full-fibre broadband, financed by a tax on technology giants and via a ‘Green Transformation’ fund.
"Labour plans [are] adding to the long list of firms under threat if Labour is successful in December,” said IG's Josh Mahony.
“With the party planning to provide free fibre optic broadband via taxation of big tech firms, this proposal has a wide reach that would essentially wipe out the whole broadband business in the UK.
“However, with BT shares having recovered much of the early decline, there is a feeling that even if Labour enter government, they will likely be in a coalition that limits such radical spending proposals such as this.”
Across the Atlantic, a letter sent to the US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday was also causing a stir, in which US Attorney General William Barr warned that Chinese telecommunications equipment makers Huawei and ZTE were apparently not trustworthy.
Shares of BT Group were down 1.15% after Labour’s plans were revealed, with BT chief Philip Jansen saying that Corbyn's proposal - including a pledge to offer full fibre to all households - carried a price tag of roughly £100.0bn.
AstraZeneca was off 0.93% after it announced that the European Commission had approved ‘Qtrilmet’ - metformin hydrochloride, saxagliptin and dapagliflozin - modified-release tablets to improve glycaemic control in adults with type-2 diabetes.
PPHE Hotel Group was up 0.53%, after it said it was making some changes to its board after a shareholder revolt at May's annual meeting against two board members.
The company said deputy chairman Kevin McAuliffe was stepping down from his posts on the audit and remuneration committees as he was "no longer deemed to be an independent director", but would stay on in his main role overseeing corporate governance. It added that Nigel Jones would retire from the board before the 2020 annual general meeting.
Future was ahead 2.61% by the close, after it reported that its full year profits almost tripled, rising by 189% to £12.7m on the back of a 70% leap in revenue.
The publisher said the surge in turnover was largely due to the performance of its higher margin media division, which saw its online audience grow by 44%, or 31% in terms of its like-for-like portfolio.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Whitbread (WTB) 4,386.00p 4.83%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,368.00p 3.41%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 557.40p 2.80%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 882.60p 2.44%
Next (NXT) 6,640.00p 2.37%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,236.00p 2.11%
Evraz (EVR) 363.30p 1.91%
Glencore (GLEN) 243.60p 1.90%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 8,292.00p 1.89%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 276.70p 1.88%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,476.00p -3.13%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 154.60p -3.12%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,245.00p -2.57%
Fresnillo (FRES) 624.40p -1.89%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,845.00p -1.66%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,732.40p -1.47%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 6,840.00p -1.36%
Pearson (PSON) 678.40p -1.19%
BT Group (BT.A) 193.00p -1.15%
Experian (EXPN) 2,438.00p -1.06%
FTSE 250 - Risers
FirstGroup (FGP) 113.70p 7.87%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 401.30p 6.45%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 219.00p 5.29%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 3.42p 5.16%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 134.35p 3.75%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 582.00p 3.74%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 423.00p 3.68%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 702.50p 3.38%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,900.00p 3.26%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 256.00p 3.23%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
PureTech Health (PRTC) 219.00p -9.50%
QinetiQ Group (QQ.) 338.80p -3.64%
TalkTalk Telecom Group (TALK) 105.60p -2.76%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,552.00p -2.51%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 2,716.00p -2.30%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 171.10p -2.28%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 198.20p -1.78%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,330.00p -1.63%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 141.30p -1.60%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 200.50p -1.23%