Final reading of Q3 GDP due; Ladbrokes agrees to takeover
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Blue-chip stocks in the U.K. stuck close to record highs Friday, with investors set to wrap up a holiday-shortened session with the final reading of British economic growth and mark a potential gain for the week.
The FTSE 100 index was up 1 point at 7,605.81. Consumer-related and utility shares moved higher, but commodity-related shares fell alongside health care and telecom stocks. On Thursday, the benchmark jumped 1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-searches-for-direction-after-gloomy-uk-consumer-updates-2017-12-21) to log a record close of 7,601.78.
Trading is set to close at 12:30 p.m. London time, or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time, ahead of the Christmas Day holiday on Monday. Trading will also be closed Tuesday for Boxing Day.
For the week, the index was on course to rise 1.6%. For 2017, the FTSE 100 was looking at a 6.5% advance and that would extend last year's climb of 14.4%.
The pound bought $1.3369, down from $1.3385 late Thursday in New York. The 10-year gilt yield slipped less than 1 basis point to 1.25%, according to Tradeweb. Yields fall when prices rise.
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What's moving markets: Investors will receive the final reading of U.K. GDP for the third quarter at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Analysts polled by FactSet expect the Office for National Statistics to post a growth rate of 1.5% on year-over-year basis, in line with a previous estimate.
The update will arrive after the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday downgraded its 2017 growth view to 1.6% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/imf-downgrades-uk-growth-forecast-2017-12-20) and said it expects growth to slow to 1.5% in 2018. The fund said Britain's pending exit from the European Union was slowing down growth, and it warned that a "breakdown in discussions could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU and sharp falls in asset prices."
Stock movers: Mining shares were mostly lower, not following up on gains made in Australian trade. Accendo Markets pointed out that shares of metals producers in Australia hit 5-year highs, aided in part by a pull back in the U.S. dollar, which helps dollar-denominated commodity prices.
In London trade, iron ore producers Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) and BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) (BHP.AU) were down 0.2% each. Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) was also off 0.2%. But Randgold Resources PLC (RRS.LN) was up 0.5% and Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) picked up 0.2%.
Retail stocks were among top gainers heading into the last weekend before Christmas. Apparel and home furnishings retailer Next PLC (NXT.LN) moved up 2.7%, Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) rose 1.3% and J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) claimed a 1.1% rise. Defense contractor BAE Systems PLC (BA.LN) gained 1.3%.
Off the FTSE 100, shares of Ladbrokes Coral Group PLC (LCL.LN) rose 0.7% after the betting company agreed to a takeover offer from GVC Holdings PLC (GVC.LN) worth up to GBP4 billion ($5.36 billion). (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ladbrokes-coral-accepts-gvc-takeover-bid-2017-12-22)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 22, 2017 04:19 ET (09:19 GMT)