FTSE 100 Friday close: Vodafone and Sports Direct drive index higher

21st February 2014

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The UK’s leading index made some headway over the trading week with a 3% gain, as Vodafone and Sports Direct led the pack writes Philip Scott.

The FTSE 100 closed on Friday at 6,838.06, 25.07 points, or 0.37% higher on the day.

Sports Direct International and Vodafone were the week’s joint best performers on the leader-board, rising by 8% apiece to close at 778.5p and 236.5 respectively.

Sports Direct investors were cheered by the group’s near 15% uplift in profits for its third quarter while ahead of the largest shareholder return in corporate history, both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS noted the potential for Vodafone to become a possible bid target after it completes the sale of its stake in US arm Verizon Wireless according to Reuters.

The rebound in the UK’s housing market, where mortgage lending soared by 33%, year-on-year in January, is helping house builders gain further traction. For its part, retail property giant Hammerson, 7% stronger at 583p, reported a significant increase in pre-tax profit to £341m in the full year ended December 31, up from £142m a year earlier. Persimmon also enjoyed a week of gains, rising 6% to 1,464p, as did Travis Perkins, 5% better at 1,980p.

Primark owner Associated British Foods rose 6% to 2,993p, while according to a report in the Financial Times the  81% taxpayer backed Royal Bank of Scotland, 5% up at 360.1p, is set to announce plans to cut back on its investment banking activities and international business costing the bank some 30,000 jobs.

Elsewhere in the banking sector, over the trading week, HSBC ahead of its full-year results on Monday, is up 3% at 654.2p, Barclays and Standard Chartered are each ahead by 2% to 258p and 1,316p respectively while Lloyds is flat at 80.79p.

Defence group BAE Systems, is the week’s steepest faller among the top 100, after its shares dipped by 5% to 411.3p following its announcement that pre-tax profits for 2013 dropped from £1.2bn to £442m.

Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group, saw its shares slump by 4% to 1,925p despite reporting a pre-tax profit of $600m, ahead of City forecasts while fund manager Aberdeen Asset Management endured a 3% fall to 388.5p. Following last week’s profit warning Rolls-Royce also loosened by 3% to 995p.

As well as HSBC, next week sees market update arrive from GKN, ITV and Persimmon.

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