LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Heads For 1.3% Weekly Gain As Draghi, Yellen Prepare To Speak

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Provident Financial continues to pare losses

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U.K. stocks moved cautiously higher on Friday, as investors looked ahead to speeches from the U.S. and eurozone central-bank heads at the Jackson Hole summit later in the day.

The FTSE 100 index rose 0.2% to 7,420.66, 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 was on track for a 1.3% weekly gain. U.K. stocks are closed for trade on Monday due to a bank holiday.

The stock market has been swinging between gains and losses all week, as traders failed to find cues ahead of the annual economic symposium hosted by the Kansas Federal Reserve. 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 the future path for monetary policy, particularly in Europe and the U.S.

"Today is the day we've waited for all week, with both ECB President Mario Draghi and Fed President Janet Yellen speaking at the Jackson Hole Symposium," said Morten Helt, senior analyst at Danske Bank, in a note.

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U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Yellen is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, or 3 p.m. London time, while European Central Bank President Draghi is on the docket 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)

"If [Yellen] gives any policy signals, we expect her to mirror Fed vice President Bill Dudley's comments last week that another rate hike is warranted this year if the economy holds up," Helt said.

"If so, it could be interpreted a bit on the hawkish side given the market is pricing in only a third of a likelihood of a hike by end-year," he said.

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) gained 6.6%, adding to double-digit percentage gains from Thursday and Wednesday. On Friday, the company said it re-appointed 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 0.8% rise for oil prices . Energy investors were closely watching Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico, 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 03:41 ET (07:41 GMT)