LONDON MARKETS: Stronger Pound Holds FTSE 100 Back For 2nd Day

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Blue-chips benchmark on track for weekly rise

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U.K. stocks inched lower on Friday, kept under pressure by further gains for the pound and continued losses for drug giant AstraZeneca.

The FTSE 100 index lost 0.1% to 7,408.52, setting it on track for a second straight day in the red (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-slips-as-astrazeneca-slides-2017-07-13). For the week, the U.K. blue chip benchmark was on track for a 0.8% gain, after strong advances earlier in the week following dovish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

On Friday, a stronger pound held back stocks in London. Sterling rose to $1.2959 from $1.2940 late Thursday in New York. The U.K. currency also jumped on Thursday following hawkish comments from Bank of England policy maker Ian McCafferty, who called for an early end to the central bank's quantitative easing program.

A stronger pound can hurt shares of multinationals on the FTSE 100 as those companies make the bulk of their revenue and earnings in overseas markets.

Stock movers: Shares of AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.LN) (AZN.LN) dropped 1.3%, adding to a 3.5% loss from Thursday. The weakness came following reports Chief Executive Pascal Soriot was set to become CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) .

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Brexit news: The U.K. government late Thursday published its first draft legislation on Brexit (https://www.wsj.com/articles/british-bill-sets-up-more-brexit-strife-1499962246), designed to revoke a 1972 law that made European Union law applicable in the U.K. The bill marks the first step in what is expected to be a tough battle negotiating the U.K.'s exit from the EU.

The government also for the first time explicitly acknowledged it has financial obligations to the EU -- the so-called exit bill -- that will need to be resolved. The exit bill has been a major point of contention, with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying the EU can "go whistle" if it demands "extortionate sums". (http://news.sky.com/story/boris-johnson-eus-exit-bill-demand-extortionate-10944564)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 14, 2017 04:08 ET (08:08 GMT)