London Markets: FTSE 100 headed for best weekly return since January

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London stocks traded mostly lackluster on Friday, but the week was shaping up to be the best since early January for the FTSE 100.

The index

dipped 0.1% to 6,932.80, but has gained 2.9% on the week, which puts it on track for the strongest weekly return since a 6.3% gain in early January. Helping out has been a 1% drop this week for the pound
Losses for the pound tend to boost the FTSE 100 as many listed multinational companies derive revenue overseas.

The index was weighed on Friday by losses for shares of British American Tobacco
which fell 2.7% after JPMorgan downgraded the shares to neutral from overweight.

A team of analyst led by Jared Dinges said heated tobacco products (HTP) are an “integral part of the global nicotine industry’s future,” and gaining more traction in Europe.

And medium-term gains for those products will likely be derived from outside BAT’s key markets, said the analysts. But they still see near-term risks for the company such as a weak first half and disappointment and ramped up HTP investment that could slow shareholder returns.

Recruitment company PageGroup

said on Friday that gross profit in the first quarter of 2021 grew on-year and it expects full-year operating profit to rise. Shares surged 9% on the FTSE 250, marking the biggest gainer on that index, which is up 2.4% for the week.

On the downside, shares of Babcock International tumbled 7%, after the Financial Times reported that the defense contractor was preparing to substantially write down the value of its assets. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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