LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Ends Lower As Pound Rallies Following Yellen Speech

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Provident Financial continues to pare losses

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U.K. stocks finished a choppy session slightly lower on Friday, with the investment mood tempered by a jump in the pound against the dollar after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman failed to provide a monetary-policy outlook.

The FTSE 100 index fell 0.1% to close at 7,401.46, after closing at its highest level since Aug. 16 on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-inches-higher-as-uk-growth-data-come-into-focus-2017-08-24). The London blue-chip index still ended with a 1.1% weekly gain. U.K. stocks are closed for trade on Monday due to a bank holiday.

The stock market has been swinging between small gains and losses all week, as traders waited for the annual economic symposium hosted by the Kansas Federal Reserve to kick off. The meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., started late Thursday and will run through Saturday.

With global central bankers gathered in one place, the market is hoping for hints on when rates will rise in Europe and the U.S. Yellen spoke during Friday's trading hours, but her discussion was largely a defense of tighter regulation over the financial system in the wake of the 2007-'08 financial crisis.

The dollar slumped in disappointment, while the pound rose to $1.2874, compared with $1.2801 late Thursday in New York.

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"The speech offered nothing on the two big questions facing traders--the path of short term rates and the pace of balance sheet reduction. Apparently this is seen as dovish although with zero detail it's hard to really say either way," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital in a note.

"What were markets expecting? Perhaps some signal about another hike, but given there was no mention it's really a push to describe these remarks any dovish. Sometimes the market just operates on fumes, and this is probably a good case in point," he added.

European Central Bank President Draghi will speak at the summit at 3 p.m. Eastern, or 8 p.m. London time.

Read:Fearful of awakening market bears, Yellen and Draghi to tread softly at Jackson Hole (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fearful-of-awakening-market-bears-yellen-and-draghi-to-tread-softly-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-24)

ECB sources told Reuters last week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-slides-after-ecb-hints-at-no-hawkish-shift-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-16) that Draghi won't be discussing monetary policy in Jackson Hole, but instead focus on the theme of the symposium--"Fostering a dynamic global economy".

Stock movers: Shares of Provident Financial PLC (PFG.LN) soared 22.5%, adding to double-digit percentage gains from Thursday and Wednesday. On Friday, the company said it reappointed Chris Gillespie (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/provident-financial-brings-chris-gillespie-back-2017-08-25) as managing director of its consumer credit unit. The U.K.-based lender tumbled 66% on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/provident-warns-on-profit-again-ceo-to-leave-2017-08-22) after warning it will lose between 80 million pounds ($102 million) and GBP120 million in the third quarter.

Energy companies were also higher, tracking a 0.6% rise for oil prices . Energy investors were closely watching Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/life-threatening-hurricane-harvey-intensifies-to-category-2-as-it-heads-for-texas-2017-08-25), which on Friday was heading for Texas and the state's many oil refineries.

Read:Why Gulf of Mexico's Hurricane Harvey is bearish for oil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-gulf-of-mexico-storm-harvey-is-bearish-for-oil-2017-08-24)

Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) (RDSB.LN) and BP (BP.LN) (BP.LN) both gained 0.5%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 25, 2017 12:09 ET (16:09 GMT)