EUROPE MARKETS: FTSE 100 Advances With Tesco Up After Sales Report

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Blue-chips index still on course for weekly fall

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U.K. stocks were higher Friday, with Tesco PLC shares rising following sales-growth figures from Britain's largest supermarket chain, but the benchmark FTSE 100 was still on course for a weekly decline.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.3% to 7,443,68, with all sectors rising. The consumer goods, oil and gas and utilities groups were the best performing.

Tesco shares (TSCO.LN) moved up 0.9%, although they pared stronger gains printed at the open. The company said first-quarter same-store sales at its core U.K. unit grew by 2.3%, (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tescos-uk-sales-rise-23-on-food-boost-2017-06-16) compared with 0.3% growth a year ago. Tesco also said it's working with suppliers to offset the impact of inflation.

Shares of rival supermarket chains Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRW.LN) and J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) also moved up, by 1% and 0.3%, respectively.

This week, data from the Office for National Statistics showed consumer-price inflation rising to a four-year high at 2.9%.

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Investors on Thursday were surprised by a 5-3 vote by policy makers at the Bank of England to hold interest rates at a record low 0.25%. Analysts had widely expected one policy maker at the most to vote for a rate increase.

That helped pushed the pound higher Thursday, and it continued to rise on Friday. Sterling traded hands at $1.2772 compared with $1.2756 late Thursday in New York.

A stronger pound, however, can pressure shares of multinational companies on the FTSE 100 as they make most of their revenue in overseas markets.

In other moves, Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (RR.LN) was up 0.8% after the aircraft engine maker kept its underlying outlook for its half-year and full-year revenue, profit and free cash flow unchanged.

On the downside, telecom company BT Group PLC (BT.A.LN) fell 1.2% and building materials maker CRH PLC gave up 1.2%.

Weekly wrap up: Along with inflation figures, statistics showed average wages for Britons have declined and retail sales in May fell 1.2%.

Meanwhile, political uncertainty persists in Westminster after the general election last week resulted in a hung parliament. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative Party are discussing deal for support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, but no agreement has been announced. Brexit talks had been scheduled to begin June 19.

The FTSE 100 was on track to fall 1.1% for the week, which would be the largest since the week ended April 21.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 16, 2017 04:07 ET (08:07 GMT)