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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 -0.05%  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 -0.55%   /quotes/zigman/202185/composite UN -1.50%   /quotes/zigman/203077/composite UL -1.37%  soared 13%, powered by U.S. packaged-foods heavyweight Kraft Heinz Co. /quotes/zigman/54335842/composite KHC -2.03%  announcing that it made a merger proposal to Unilever that was declined.

The pound /quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled GBPUSD 0.0000%  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 -0.63%  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 -0.46%   /quotes/zigman/134653/composite AZN +0.40%  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 -0.58%  gave up 4.4% for the FTSE’s largest loss.

/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed
UK : FTSE Indices
7,271.95
-3.30 -0.05%
Volume: 0.00
Sept. 20, 2017 4:35p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/409909/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
4,351.50 p
-24.00 -0.55%
Volume: 2.48M
Sept. 20, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
24.93
Dividend Yield
2.93%
Market Cap
£55.12 billion
Rev. per Employee
£275,502
loading...
/quotes/zigman/202185/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 59.69
-0.91 -1.50%
Volume: 662,130
Sept. 20, 2017 2:21p
P/E Ratio
26.99
Dividend Yield
2.76%
Market Cap
$103.98 billion
Rev. per Employee
$350,737
loading...
/quotes/zigman/203077/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 58.33
-0.81 -1.37%
Volume: 688,449
Sept. 20, 2017 2:21p
P/E Ratio
26.37
Dividend Yield
2.83%
Market Cap
$74.53 billion
Rev. per Employee
$350,737
loading...
/quotes/zigman/54335842/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 79.19
-1.64 -2.03%
Volume: 3.64M
Sept. 20, 2017 2:21p
P/E Ratio
25.42
Dividend Yield
3.14%
Market Cap
$98.47 billion
Rev. per Employee
$638,171
loading...
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.3511
0.0000 0.0000%
Volume: 0.0000
Sept. 20, 2017 2:21p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/15946248/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
2,524.00 p
-16.00 -0.63%
Volume: 943,839
Sept. 20, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
27.18
Dividend Yield
1.49%
Market Cap
£9.27 billion
Rev. per Employee
£176,704
loading...
/quotes/zigman/244926/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
4,752.00 p
-22.00 -0.46%
Volume: 1.81M
Sept. 20, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
19.69
Dividend Yield
2.90%
Market Cap
£60.43 billion
Rev. per Employee
£287,247
loading...
/quotes/zigman/134653/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 32.80
+0.13 +0.40%
Volume: 5.43M
Sept. 20, 2017 2:21p
P/E Ratio
23.06
Dividend Yield
2.74%
Market Cap
$81.72 billion
Rev. per Employee
$346,179
loading...
/quotes/zigman/22532/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
731.80 p
-4.30 -0.58%
Volume: 5.45M
Sept. 20, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
311.40
Dividend Yield
2.57%
Market Cap
£24.23 billion
Rev. per Employee
£182,699
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Victor Reklaitis is a London-based markets writer for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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