Britain’s FTSE posts slight weekly gain as oil stocks rise

US missile strike on Syria the dominant factor in the markets

Traders on the floor of the NYSE on Friday. Financial markets were initially spooked by US missile strikes against Syria. Photograph: Bloomberg

Traders on the floor of the NYSE on Friday. Financial markets were initially spooked by US missile strikes against Syria. Photograph: Bloomberg


The US missile strike on Syria was the dominant factor in the markets yesterday with oil trading near a one-month high while the dollar rose as investors dismissed a weak US jobs report as not enough to derail a strong economy or outlook for rising interest rates.

US crude rose 51 cents to $52.21 a barrel and Brent was last up 39 cents to $55.28. Spot gold added 1.2 per cent to $1,265.70 an ounce.

News of the overnight attack sent global stocks lower initially, but most losses were pared after Washington described the attack as a one-off event that would not lead to wider escalation. Stock market indexes rebounded to close higher in Europe and traded flat on Wall Street


International packaging group, Smurfit Kappa, fell 1.11 per cent to €23.98 after about 650,000 shares changed hands in Dublin on Friday. Earlier this week the group announced it was appointing Saverio Mayer as its new chief executive of Europe.

Tullow Oil surged 4 per cent to €2.60 as crude prices climbed following news of the US strike on Syria.

Real estate investment trust Green Reit rose 1.41 per cent to €1.37 while its rival, Hibernia Reit, edged up 0.8 per cent to €1.26.


Britain’s blue-chip FTSE-100 rose on Friday in choppy trade as oil stocks extended gains, bucking a broader risk-off move across markets after the US cruise missile strike in Syria.

UK oil stocks added the most points to the index, which closed 0.6 per cent ahead at 7,349.37 points at its close for a rise of 0.4 per cent across the week. Tullow Oil was the top gainer, up 7.5 per cent after it traded without rights to its cash call. Royal Dutch Shell and BP rose 1.7 and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Defence firm BAE Systems was another top riser, up 2.4 per cent, in line with US peers .

Precious metals miners also rose as investors fled to safe-haven assets such as gold, the underlying commodity.

ITV was a faller, down 0.5 per cent after JP Morgan cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”, citing further weakness in UK advertising trends.

Supermarkets were a bright spot, as Tesco and Sainsbury both advanced more than 2 per cent after UBS began its coverage of both with a “buy” rating. UBS was less positive on online grocer Ocado, which dropped 5.4 per cent after UBS cut it to “sell”.


European shares ended slightly higher, with banks seeing a volatile session as dovish comments from ECB chief Mario Draghi triggered talk over the outlook for monetary policy in the region.

The STOXX 600 index reversed losses to end 0.2 per cent higher, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.1 per cent.

Among euro zone banks, the top two fallers were Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank and Germany’s Commerzbank, down 1.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.

Airport operator Fraport rose 4.4 per cent with traders linking the rise to an upgrade to “buy” from Société Générale.


US stocks were little changed in choppy trading on Friday as investors scurried to safe-havens, while weak jobs data weighed on financial stocks. US employers added about 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest since last May and below economists’ expectation of 180,000.

Bank stocks were hit the most. The S&P 500 financial index was down 0.56 per cent, the biggest decliner among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors.

At 12:23pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 10.89 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 20,673.84, the S&P 500 was up 0.62 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 2,358.11 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.84 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 5,880.79.

The industrials sector was up 0.23 per cent, led by weapons makers and defense companies. Raytheon, which makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the strike, jumped 1.5 per cent. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were up between 1.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent.

– Additional reporting, Reuters