LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Set To Break 5-day Losing Run

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

GKN slumps after CEO designate ousted

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U.K. stocks rose on Thursday, boosted by a round of well-received corporate updates and as buyers stepped into pick up shares after a five-session losing streak.

On the economic docket, British retail sales fell less than expected in October, helping lift the pound against both the euro and dollar.

What markets are doing: The FTSE 100 index added 0.1% to 7,380.67, after ending at its lowest level since Sept. 28 on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/commodity-stocks-pull-ftse-100-toward-fifth-straight-decline-2017-11-15) following five straight sessions of losses.

The pound bought $1.3190, up from $1.3170 late Wednesday in New York. Against the euro, sterling strengthened to EUR1.1197 compared with EUR1.1170 on Wednesday.

What's driving the markets: Traders were encouraged by a positive trading day in Asia (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tencent-earnings-buoy-hong-kong-index-nikkei-looks-to-snap-loss-streak-2017-11-15), where Japan's Nikkei snapped a six-session losing streak.

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A slight recovery in oil prices early on Thursday helped lift the FTSE's energy companies. West Texas Intermediate crude , however, erased its gain during the morning session, trading 0.1% lower at $55.26 a barrel. The contract settled at its lowest level in almost two weeks on Wednesday after data showed a surprise jump in U.S. stockpiles.

Shares of BP PLC (BP.LN) (BP.LN) rose 0.5%, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) (RDSB.LN) climbed 0.2%.

The pound staged a turnaround to trade higher after the Office for National Statistics said retail sales slipped 0.3% on the year in October (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-retail-sales-rebound-beats-expectations-2017-11-16), which was better than the 0.5% expected by economists, according to FactSet. Month-on-month sales rose 0.3%, beating the 0.1% forecast.

The report comes after data earlier this week showed the unemployment rate remained at 4.3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-employment-drops-for-1st-time-in-2-years-2017-11-15) and wages rose 2.2% in the three months through September, while inflation stayed at a five-year high in October at 3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-inflation-stays-at-5-year-high-of-3-2017-11-14).

What strategists are saying: The positive start is "helped by fresh gains in Asia, shrugging off several days of losses that potentially puts an end to a commodity sector-inspired selloff, giving bulls some hope of a turnaround. Sentiment has been helped by oil finding support, offering respite to the key energy sector," said analysts at Accendo Markets in a note.

Stock movers: Shares of 3i Group PLC (III.LN) rose 2% after the international investment manager it is on track to deliver another strong year of growth in its private-equity portfolio.

British Land Co. PLC (BLND.LN) added 2% after the real-estate company said it swung to a first-half profit.

Prudential PLC (PRU.LN) rose 0.8% as the insurer said it continues to benefit from powerful demand drivers (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/prudential-new-business-profit-rises-17-2017-11-16) and its established platforms in Asia, the U.S., and the U.K. and Europe.

On a downbeat note, shares of GKN PLC (GKN.LN) slid 6.3% after the engineering group ousted its CEO designate Kevin Cummings amid problems at the aerospace unit he ran.

Mediclinic International PLC (MDC.LN) lost 2.4% after the private hospital company said it swung to a first-half pretax loss.

Outside the FTSE 100, Royal Mail PLC (RMG.LN) inched 0.3% higher after revenue rose in the first half (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/royal-mail-profit-down-warns-on-letter-volume-2017-11-16).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 16, 2017 05:39 ET (10:39 GMT)