Investors brace for a potentially eventful weekend
U.K. stocks slipped Friday as the pound continued to rise, with mining shares under pressure after a disappointing data from China that spurred concerns about global growth.
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Investors were also hesitant of making any big moves ahead of a potentially eventful weekend, including a life-threatening hurricane heading toward the U.S. and a possible missile test in North Korea.
The FTSE 100 shed 0.3% to close at 7,377.60, extending its weekly loss to 0.8%. That marks the blue-chip index's first weekly decline in four weeks. On Thursday, the London benchmark climbed 0.6% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-stocks-search-for-firm-direction-as-banks-fall-insurers-rise-2017-09-07), breaking a three-day losing run.
Recent sessions have been marked by skittishness over North Korea's nuclear strike ambitions and the effect of Hurricane Irma. Pyongyang may launch another missile (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-is-getting-ready-for-another-possible-icbm-launch-says-south-korea-2017-09-04) on Saturday as it celebrates its founding day, while Irma is forecast to make landfall in Florida (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hurricane-irma-downgraded-to-category-4-but-remains-extremely-dangerous-on-its-path-to-florida-2017-09-08) late Saturday or early Sunday.
"Stocks in Europe are largely lower today as investors are preparing themselves for Hurricane Irma to descend on the U.S. Market volatility and the trading range of indices has been low as investors unwind their positions ahead of the weekend," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.
Read:Investors are in denial about the rising risk of war with North Korea (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-are-in-denial-about-the-rising-risk-of-war-with-north-korea-2017-09-07)
Sterling strength: On Friday, the pound continued to rise, buying $1.3209, up from $1.3102 late Thursday in New York. Sterling has risen roughly 2% against the dollar this week, and pound strength can hurt revenue and earnings prospects for multinational companies.
Miners lose ground: Mining shares sagged after growth in Chinese exports slowed in August, to a rate of 5.5%, raising concern about softening of global demand. Mining shares can be sensitive to Chinese economic data as the world's second-largest economy is a key buyer of industrial and precious metals.
In the group, shares of copper producer Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) fell 3.7% and BHP Billiton PLC (BLT.LN) (BHP.AU) fell 3.8%.
Stock movers: Retailers were losing ground, with Marks & Spencer PLC (MKS.LN) off 1.8%, Kingfisher PLC (KGF.LN) dropped 3.6%, and Next PLC (NXT.LN) gave up 0.6%.
Consumers flag: Off the main benchmark, on the FTSE 250, shares in Greene King PLC (GNK.LN) tumbled 16% after the brewer warned of tougher trading conditions. It flagged a drop in confidence in the economy as wages stagnate.
"We remain cautious about the trading environment and expect the challenges of weaker consumer confidence, increased costs and increasing competition to persist over the near term."
It blamed wet weather for a drop in sales, especially in its "value food" business.
Shares in Whitbread PLC (WTB.LN), which operates pub food chain Brewers Fayre, fell 0.6%.
Economy in focus: Manufacturing production in the U.K. rose 0.5% in July, the Office for National Statistics said, beating expectations for a 0.3% gain. Industrial production was up 0.2%, meeting views. However, construction output for the same month was down 0.9%.
Earlier, the British Chambers of Commerce cut its U.K. economic growth view for 2018 and 2019, noting that the fall in the pound since the Brexit referendum had not translated into a boost for businesses.
"While some businesses report strong trading conditions, the U.K. economy as a whole is treading water, and there is no sign on the horizon of a return to healthier levels of growth," said BCC Director General Adam Marshall in a statement.
It reduced its growth expectations for next year and 2019 to 1.3% and 1.2%, from 1.5% and 1.4% previously forecast. But it upgraded its projection for 2017 to 1.6%, driven by a moderately stronger outlook for consumer spending growth.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 08, 2017 12:30 ET (16:30 GMT)