LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Logs First Gain In 5 Days

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Rio Tinto shares rise after miner holds to iron ore view

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U.K. stocks ended a wobbly session slightly higher on Thursday after a mixed bag of corporate results, including well-received earnings from consumer giant Unilever PLC.

The FTSE 100 index rose 0.1% to close at 7,118.54, bouncing back from the lowest close since Feb. 1 that it logged on Wednesday.

Stocks have been sliding in recent days, with the fall continuing after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election for June 8. The FTSE on Wednesday erased its yearly gain, dropping 0.5% after falling for four straight sessions.

May's move to call an election Tuesday spurred a rally in the pound to its highest since October and sterling has been trading around that level since. It bought $1.2839 on Thursday morning, up from $1.2779 late Wednesday in New York. Analysts put sterling's surge down to hopes for a bigger Conservative majority in parliament, which could put the U.K. in a stronger position to negotiate Brexit with Brussels.

Read:Why the snap U.K. election is a 'game-changer' for the pound (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-the-pound-surged-to-10-week-high-after-may-called-snap-uk-election-2017-04-18)

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A stronger pound tends to weigh on the FTSE as it weighs on the financial results of the index's many multinationals that make the bulk of their earnings overseas.

However, on Thursday a gain for Unilever (ULVR.LN) (ULVR.LN) shares after it posted earnings helped lift the London benchmark. Shares of the consumer-products giant closed up 0.3% after it reported a rise in underlying sales for the first quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/unilever-sales-rise-but-lag-in-europe-us-2017-04-20).

Shares of Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) added 1.2% after the mining major trimmed its copper production target, but stuck to its guidance for iron ore (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rio-tinto-trims-copper-production-target-2017-04-20).

Burberry Group PLC (BRBY.LN) (BRBY.LN) gained 1.7%, partly recovering from a 7.9% slide on Wednesday when the luxury-goods company said underlying revenue fell in the second half of its financial year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/burberry-revenue-down-but-boosted-by-fx-gains-2017-04-19).

Outside the main benchmark, shares of Debenhams PLC (DEB.LN) sank 5.1% after the department-store group reported a drop in profit (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/debenhams-profit-falls-interim-dividend-unchanged-2017-04-20).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 11:55 ET (15:55 GMT)