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Feb. 17, 2017, 12:01 p.m. EST

FTSE 100 ends higher, helped by Unilever’s leap and pound’s drop

Sterling falls after disappointing U.K. retail sales

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By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch


Getty Images
Unilever's decorative entrance at its London offices.

U.K. stocks closed higher Friday, as they got a boost from Unilever PLC’s jump on deal news and the pound’s drop following discouraging retail sales.

The FTSE 100 /quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed UK:UKX -0.34%  rose by 0.3% to end at 7,299.96, after trading in the red in morning action. The blue-chip benchmark scored a 0.6% gain for the week and finished just below a one-month closing high hit Wednesday.

Shares in consumer-products giant Unilever PLC /quotes/zigman/409909/delayed UK:ULVR +1.09%   /quotes/zigman/202185/composite UN -7.97%   /quotes/zigman/203077/composite UL -7.79%  soared 13%, powered by U.S. packaged-foods heavyweight Kraft Heinz Co. /quotes/zigman/54335842/composite KHC -3.77%  announcing that it made a merger proposal to Unilever that was declined.

The pound /quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.0080%  was trading at $1.2416, down from $1.2494 late Thursday, as traders reacted to a January report on U.K. retail sales . The report showed a month-over-month drop of 0.3%, missing forecasts for a rise.

The retail sales number was “really weak,” showing British consumers are starting to feel the squeeze due to a pickup in inflation, said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets UK, in a note.

“The net impact on the currency after the data was bad, and we have seen traders putting more short trades against the sterling-dollar pair,” he added.

The FTSE 100 lifted off its session low as sterling slumped. A weaker pound often boosts the London benchmark as around 75% of FTSE companies’ sales come from overseas in other currencies.

U.K. investors on Thursday also digested U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy press conference on Thursday, in which he said he “inherited a mess” at home and abroad, and blasted the news media.

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Other movers: Coca-Cola HBC AG’s shares /quotes/zigman/15946248/delayed UK:CCH +0.56%  closed 4% higher for the FTSE 100’s second-biggest gain. The stock built on Thursday’s jump of 4.9%, which came after the bottling company said profit rose last year.

AstraZeneca PLC /quotes/zigman/244926/delayed UK:AZN -0.18%   /quotes/zigman/134653/composite AZN -0.46%  rose 1.6% after the drug company announced positive results from a trial of its breast cancer treatment Lynparza.

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered PLC /quotes/zigman/22532/delayed UK:STAN -0.92%  gave up 4.4% for the FTSE’s largest loss.

/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed
UK : FTSE Indices
7,274.83
-25.03 -0.34%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 21, 2017 4:35p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/409909/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
3,586.50 p
+38.50 +1.09%
Volume: 6.00M
Feb. 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
24.02
Dividend Yield
3.09%
Market Cap
£45.54 billion
Rev. per Employee
£252,724
loading...
/quotes/zigman/202185/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 44.90
-3.89 -7.97%
Volume: 9.59M
Feb. 21, 2017 2:19p
P/E Ratio
22.33
Dividend Yield
3.07%
Market Cap
$77.39 billion
Rev. per Employee
$340,252
loading...
/quotes/zigman/203077/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 44.75
-3.78 -7.79%
Volume: 8.37M
Feb. 21, 2017 2:18p
P/E Ratio
22.28
Dividend Yield
3.07%
Market Cap
$56.80 billion
Rev. per Employee
$340,252
loading...
/quotes/zigman/54335842/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 93.01
-3.64 -3.77%
Volume: 9.03M
Feb. 21, 2017 2:19p
P/E Ratio
40.85
Dividend Yield
2.58%
Market Cap
$117.65 billion
Rev. per Employee
$636,929
loading...
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.2462
-0.0001 -0.0080%
Volume: 0.0000
Feb. 21, 2017 2:18p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/15946248/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
1,979.00 p
+11.00 +0.56%
Volume: 841,867
Feb. 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
0.32
Dividend Yield
1.57%
Market Cap
£7.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
£153,058
loading...
/quotes/zigman/244926/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
4,562.00 p
-8.00 -0.18%
Volume: 1.96M
Feb. 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
21.39
Dividend Yield
6.58%
Market Cap
£57.82 billion
Rev. per Employee
£277,193
loading...
/quotes/zigman/134653/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 29.03
-0.14 -0.46%
Volume: 3.29M
Feb. 21, 2017 2:19p
P/E Ratio
22.87
Dividend Yield
6.55%
Market Cap
$72.13 billion
Rev. per Employee
$371,434
loading...
/quotes/zigman/22532/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
758.00 p
-7.00 -0.92%
Volume: 6.98M
Feb. 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
2.48%
Market Cap
£25.13 billion
Rev. per Employee
£155,002
loading...

Victor Reklaitis is a London-based markets writer for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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