LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Wobbles, But Keeps Weekly Win In Sight

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil majors lose ground; U.K. government borrowing increases

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U.K. stocks wavered on Friday, but Britain's blue-chip benchmark was still on track for its best week in more than two months.

Vodafone PLC was a standout as shares of the mobile telecom company climbed, but oil majors lost ground ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The FTSE 100 index tilted down by 3 points at 7,485.31. Oil and gas, consumer-related, utility and industrial stocks were on the decline, but health care and basic material shares nudged up.

A win Friday would be the London benchmark's third in a row. It was on course for a weekly rise of 1.5%, which would be its sharpest advance since the week ended May 12, FactSet data showed.

U.K. stocks on Thursday marked their highest close since mid-June (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-lifted-as-unilever-advances-with-ecb-meeting-in-focus-2017-07-20), in part as the pound fell against the dollar. U.K. officials wrapped up round two of Brexit talks on Thursday, with British and EU officials clashing over the U.K.'s bill for exiting (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-eu-clash-over-divorce-bill-as-round-2-of-brexit-talks-wrap-up-2017-07-20) from the bloc.

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Stock movers: Vodafone (VOD.LN) picked up 1.4% after the mobile phone services provider reiterated its earnings outlook for the full year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/vodafone-revenue-drops-on-forex-effects-2017-07-21).

Among other top advancers in London trade were British American Tobacco PLC (BATS.LN) and apparel and home furnishings seller Next PLC (NXT.LN) , with each rising 0.8%.

On the downside, Paddy Power Betfair PLC fell 3.4% and easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN) dropped 3%, extending losses logged Thursday after the budget airline's third-quarter update. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/easyjet-quarterly-unit-revenue-turns-positive-2017-07-20)

Off the benchmark, Paysafe Group PLC (PAYS.LN) leapt 7% after the British electronic payments company said Friday it received a possible all-cash buyout offer (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/paysafe-shares-jump-on-38-billion-bid-2017-07-21) from funds managed by Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners. The bid represented an 8.9% premium to Thursday's closing price of GBP5.42 a share.

OPEC ahead: Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and BP PLC (BP.LN) were off 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively, as oil prices swung lower.

The oil market will be in focus as OPEC oil ministers are set to gather Monday for a monthly meeting to monitor producer compliance with output quotas. Also Friday, rig-count figures from the U.S. are due.

Read:How OPEC committee's coming meeting could make or break oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-opec-committees-coming-meeting-could-make-or-break-oil-prices-2017-07-20)

Bucking Europe: The FTSE 100 did during Friday's session outperform European stocks (), which dropped Thursday as the euro rallied to a two-year high above $1.16.

Read:Nobody told the euro that Mario Draghi was dovish (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nobody-told-the-euro-that-mario-draghi-was-dovish-2017-07-20)

Those moves came after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank's bond-buying program will be discussed in the "autumn," and as investors brushed past the dovish tone about monetary stimulus that Draghi struck at his press conference.

On Friday, losses for the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 picked up in afternoon trade, while the euro continued to rise.

The pound fetched EUR1.1173 on Friday, higher than EUR1.1153 late Thursday in New York. Against the dollar, sterling changed hands at $1.3009, up from $1.2973.

A stronger pound can hurt shares of FTSE 100-listed multinational companies that make most of their revenue and earnings in overseas markets.

Data:U.K. government borrowing (Public-sector%20borrowing%20to%20cover%20the%20shortfall%20between%20taxes%20and%20spending%20was%20GBP22.8%20billion%20($29.59%20billion)) to cover the shortfall between taxes and spending increased to GBP22.8 billion ($29.59 billion) on the year in the three months through June, as quickening inflation pushed up the cost of servicing the country's debt.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 21, 2017 07:51 ET (11:51 GMT)