LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Steps Higher, On Course For A Quarterly Rise

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.K. stocks gained ground Friday, with housing shares taking in a lackluster industry update, while pound weakness primed the blue-chips market for a potential rise for the week.

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The benchmark FTSE 100 index picked up 0.6% to 7,363.05, as all sectors rose. The index on Thursday closed up 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/banks-continue-to-rise-in-otherwise-downbeat-uk-stock-market-2017-09-28) .

The London index was on course for a weekly rise of 0.7%, essentially on par with its likely percentage gain for the third quarter, which stock investors will wrap up on Friday. The index for the month, however, was on track for a monthly pullback of 0.9%.

The benchmark extended gains Friday as the pound fell below $1.34 after second-quarter gross domestic product on an annual basis was revised lower. The Office for National Statistics said its final reading of year-on-year growth came in at 1.5%, down from a previous estimate of 1.7%.

A stronger pound can hurt shares of multinational companies on the FTSE 100, as earnings that the companies make overseas can be reduced when converted back to sterling.

Among multinationals whose shares were making their way higher Friday was luxury-goods seller Burberry Group PLC (BRBY.LN) as it tacked on 1.7%, gold producer Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) added 0.9% and medical devices maker Smith & Nephew PLC (SN.LN) bulked up 0.8%.

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The pound was moving toward a weekly drop of about 0.8%, but was already under pressure Friday following an update from the British housing sector (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-house-prices-stable-but-drop-in-london-2017-09-29). The Nationwide Building Society said U.K. house prices edged up 0.2% in September after a decline in August, but house prices in London fell 0.6% on the year, the first annual fall in eight years.

Shares of home builders were still able to move up Friday. Persimmon PLC (PSN.LN) put on 1.7%, Taylor Wimpey PLC (TW.LN) was 0.9% higher as were shares of Barratt Developments PLC (BDEV.LN) .

In other developments Friday, shares of Aviva PLC (AV.LN) were up 1.5% after the insurer said it's selling its joint venture in Italy, Avipop Assicurazioni SpA, for 265 million euros ($311.8 million) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aviva-sells-italian-joint-venture-for-265-million-2017-09-29) to Banco BPM SpA (BAMI.MI) .

Off the main benchmark, shares of Carillion PLC (CLLN.LN) plunged 16% after the construction services swung to a half-year loss of GBP1.15 billion ($1.54 billion) and cut its full-year sales outlook. It now expects total revenue of GBP4.6 billion to GBP4.8 billion, compared with a previous estimate of GBP4.8 billion to GBP5.0 billion.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 29, 2017 05:15 ET (09:15 GMT)