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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 -0.47%  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 -0.25%   /quotes/zigman/202185/composite UN +0.45%   /quotes/zigman/203077/composite UL +0.40%  soared 13%, powered by U.S. packaged-foods heavyweight Kraft Heinz Co. /quotes/zigman/54335842/composite KHC +0.30%  announcing that it made a merger proposal to Unilever that was declined.

The pound /quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.1850%  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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President Donald Trump said he feels his administration is running like a "fine-tuned" machine at a press conference on Thursday. Critics disagree.

Other movers: Coca-Cola HBC AG’s shares /quotes/zigman/15946248/delayed UK:CCH -1.10%  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 +0.57%   /quotes/zigman/134653/composite AZN +0.47%  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 -1.37%  gave up 4.4% for the FTSE’s largest loss.

/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed
UK : FTSE Indices
7,452.91
-34.96 -0.47%
Volume: 0.00
July 21, 2017 4:35p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/409909/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
4,378.00 p
-11.00 -0.25%
Volume: 2.29M
July 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
29.32
Dividend Yield
2.91%
Market Cap
£55.43 billion
Rev. per Employee
£275,502
loading...
/quotes/zigman/202185/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 58.12
+0.26 +0.45%
Volume: 1.54M
July 21, 2017 4:02p
P/E Ratio
26.16
Dividend Yield
2.85%
Market Cap
$99.27 billion
Rev. per Employee
$350,737
loading...
/quotes/zigman/203077/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 57.09
+0.23 +0.40%
Volume: 1.56M
July 21, 2017 4:02p
P/E Ratio
25.69
Dividend Yield
2.90%
Market Cap
$72.00 billion
Rev. per Employee
$350,737
loading...
/quotes/zigman/54335842/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 86.16
+0.26 +0.30%
Volume: 2.74M
July 21, 2017 4:00p
P/E Ratio
30.55
Dividend Yield
2.79%
Market Cap
$104.91 billion
Rev. per Employee
$640,951
loading...
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.2997
+0.0024 +0.1850%
Volume: 0.0000
July 21, 2017 4:59p
loading...
/quotes/zigman/15946248/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
2,250.00 p
-25.00 -1.10%
Volume: 603,877
July 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
28.66
Dividend Yield
1.67%
Market Cap
£8.20 billion
Rev. per Employee
£164,029
loading...
/quotes/zigman/244926/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
5,152.00 p
+29.00 +0.57%
Volume: 1.93M
July 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
24.36
Dividend Yield
5.83%
Market Cap
£65.21 billion
Rev. per Employee
£286,603
loading...
/quotes/zigman/134653/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 34.05
+0.16 +0.47%
Volume: 3.58M
July 21, 2017 4:02p
P/E Ratio
27.70
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$84.71 billion
Rev. per Employee
$349,628
loading...
/quotes/zigman/22532/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
813.70 p
-11.30 -1.37%
Volume: 5.47M
July 21, 2017 4:35p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
2.31%
Market Cap
£26.78 billion
Rev. per Employee
£166,121
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Victor Reklaitis is a London-based markets writer for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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