Vodafone rises on outlook, but oil majors lose ground
U.K. stocks notched small gains on Friday, putting Britain's blue-chip benchmark on track for its best week in more than two months, even as stock markets across Europe broadly fell.
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Vodafone PLC was a standout as shares of the mobile telecoms company drove higher, but oil majors lost ground ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The FTSE 100 index was up 0.1% at 7,493.78, with consumer-related and health care shares rising. But technology, commodity and financial stocks were on the decline.
A win Friday would be the London benchmark's third in a row. It was on course for a weekly rise of 1.6%, which would be its sharpest advance since the week ended May 12, FactSet data showed.
U.K. stocks on Thursday marked their highest close since mid-June (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-lifted-as-unilever-advances-with-ecb-meeting-in-focus-2017-07-20), in part as the pound fell against the dollar. U.K. officials wrapped up round two of Brexit talks on Thursday, with British and EU officials clashing over the U.K.'s bill for exiting (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-eu-clash-over-divorce-bill-as-round-2-of-brexit-talks-wrap-up-2017-07-20) from the bloc.
Stock movers: Vodafone (VOD.LN) picked up 1.4% after the mobile phone services provider reiterated its earnings outlook for the full year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/vodafone-revenue-drops-on-forex-effects-2017-07-21).
Among other top advancers in London trade were British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN) and apparel and home furnishings seller Next PLC (NXT.LN) , rising 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively.
On the downside, Paddy Power Betfair PLC fell 2.9% and British Land Co. (BLND.LN) shed 0.9%.
OPEC ahead: Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and BP PLC (BP.LN) were each off roughly 0.4% although oil prices were moving slightly higher.
The oil market will be back in focus as OPEC oil ministers are set to gather Monday for a monthly meeting to monitor producer compliance with output quotas.
Read:How OPEC committee's coming meeting could make or break oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-opec-committees-coming-meeting-could-make-or-break-oil-prices-2017-07-20)
Bucking Europe: The FTSE 100 on Friday continued to outperform European stocks (), which dropped Thursday as the euro rallied to a two-year high above $1.16.
Read:Nobody told the euro that Mario Draghi was dovish (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nobody-told-the-euro-that-mario-draghi-was-dovish-2017-07-20)
Those moves came after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank's bond-buying program will be discussed in the "autumn," and as investors brushed past the dovish tone about monetary stimulus that Draghi struck at his press conference.
On Friday, the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was tilting lower, while the euro continued to rally.
The pound fetched EUR1.1138 on Friday, slightly lower than EUR1.1153 late Thursday in New York. Against the dollar, it was changing hands at $1.2992, up from $1.2973.
A weaker pound can help shares of FTSE 100-listed multinational companies that make most of their revenue and earnings in overseas markets.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 21, 2017 04:23 ET (08:23 GMT)