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LONDON MARKETS : U.K. Stocks Break 2-day Losing Streak After Pound's Mini 'flash Crash'

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05/19/2017 | 06:10pm CET

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

Hikma Pharmaceuticals cuts revenue guidance

U.K. stocks on Friday closed higher for the first time in three sessions, boosted by a mini "flash crash" in the pound and a rebound in U.S. and Asian equities overnight.

The FTSE 100 index rose 0.5% to end at 7,470.71. The move left the index up 0.5% for the week, a fourth consecutive weekly advance.

The benchmark on Thursday slid 0.9% , weighed by a pop in the pound above $1.30 and fears that controversies surrounding the White House would derail U.S. President Donald's pro-growth agenda.

"Unlike Tuesday to Thursday, which saw a parade of heavy-hitting U.K. data, [Friday's] economic calendar is rather barren," said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, in a note.

"That leaves investors free to mull over Trump's various misdeeds, and whether or not they want to get back on board a set of Western indices that, in the grand scheme of things, haven't travelled too far from their highs," he added.

Washington concerns appeared to be a bit on the back burner for now and investors instead focused on a sharp slump in the pound that happened late Thursday. Sterling suddenly plunged below $1.29 from as high as $1.3048 earlier in the day in what traders described as mini "flash crash."

"Particularly against the dollar, the pound was already looking a little unstable around $1.30 and yesterday's mini crash has done little to convince me otherwise. We've seen a lot of consolidation in the pair overnight, I wonder whether we'll see one more burst before the week is out," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

The pound later recaptured the $1.30 level, buying $1.3022 compared with $1.2943 late Thursday in New York.

A positive tone coming from U.S. markets on Thursday also helped spur an upbeat mood in Friday's session in Europe. After logging their worst loss since September, U.S. stocks on Thursday closed higher as positive economic data offered a glimmer of optimism. Asia also ended mostly higher .

U.S. stocks on Friday rose, but key indexes remained on track for weekly declines.

Movers: Shares of Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (>> Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc) swung higher to end up 2.1%. They had dropped earlier in the session after the drugmaker cut its 2017 revenue guidance due to a delay in the launch of the generic version of GlaxoSmithKline PLC's (>> GlaxoSmithKline plc) (>> GlaxoSmithKline plc) Advair Diskus this year.

Energy companies rose as oil prices climbed on optimism major oil producers will agree to extend production cuts at the closely watched Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting next week. Shares of BP PLC (>> BP plc) (>> BP plc) added 0.7% and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (>> Royal Dutch Shell Plc) (>> Royal Dutch Shell Plc) gained 0.2%.

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