U.K. stocks finished slightly lower Friday, with oil shares hindered by battered crude prices that helped leave the blue-chips index in the red for the week.
The FTSE 100
closed down 0.2% at 7,424.13, with banks, consumer goods and basic materials companies ending lower. But gains for consumer services and utilities shares helped limit the benchmark’s loss.
The index has dropped for four straight sessions, FactSet data showed. It lost 0.5% over the week and has fallen for four consecutive weeks, the longest string since April.
Crude prices crack: The slump in oil prices was a key drag on stocks this week, as worries about global oversupply yanked U.S. crude oil
and Brent crude
prices into bear-market territory. A bear market is defined as a drop of at least 20% from a recent peak.
Those moves hurt shares of London-listed oil producers Royal Dutch Shell PLC
and BP PLC
On a weekly basis, the shares fell 2.9% and 2.2%, respectively.
“The enormous volatility in the oil market is unsettling investors around the world. The fear of falling inflation and reduced growth prospects is at the forefront of traders’ minds,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden in a note.
“It is not unusual for us to witness rallies, but the big picture is that oil has been falling since March, and now the selloffs are becoming even more severe.”
Shell and BP shares each closed 0.1% lower on Friday, paring losses as oil prices clawed higher. But crude prices remained on course for a fifth straight weekly loss.
Brexit in focus: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has offered up a plan to allow European Union citizens to stay if they have been U.K. residents for at least five years.
The proposal came ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday. Discussions about Britain’s exit from the bloc was high on the agenda, one year after the U.K. voted in a referendum to leave the union.
And check out: Brexit — 5 ways the U.K. could now leave the EU
In the currency market, the pound
bought $1.2725, up from $1.2682 late Thursday in New York. But the U.K. currency is still well below the roughly $1.50 level it traded at ahead of the Brexit referendum on June 23 last year.
Stock movers: Broadcaster ITV PLC
topped FTSE advancers, closing up 3.3% following an upgrade to buy from equal weight at Morgan Stanley.
Friday’s biggest decliners included Smurfit Kappa Group PLC
as shares of the packaging manufacturer fell 2.5%.
Drugmaker Shire PLC
finished 2.3% lower, but closed up by 5.6% for the week, during which its Mydayis treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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