Paddy Power enlivens FTSE, housebuilders fall
By Georgina Prodhan
LONDON (Reuters) – British shares on Friday ended Black Friday just slightly lower, with Paddy Power leading winners against a strong pound, which was poised to rise for a third consecutive week amid growing hopes that Brexit talks could bear fruits next month.
British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning in Brussels renewed her wish to make a joint move with the European Union to open negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal.
A stronger pounds tends to weigh on heavyweight dollar earning companies in the index such as miners.
Housebuilders were among the top FTSE decliners on Friday after UK mortgage approvals sank to a 13-month low. [nL9N1MV00U]
The FTSE (.FTSE) closed down 0.1 percent at 7,409.64 points, leaving it up about 0.4 percent on the week.
Britain’s blue-chip index was enlivened by betting-shop operator Paddy Power Betfair (PPB.L), which rose 3.2 percent on a report that it may expand overseas to offset tougher gambling regulations in Britain.
Along with rival William Hill, Paddy Power was reported to have held talks on a deal with Australia’s CrownBet (CWN.AX).
3i Group (III.L) rose 1.7 percent as Canaccord rose its target price for the listed private equity firm.
Travel firm Thomas Cook (TCG.L) jumped 4.7 percent after it was reported it bid for failed rival Monarch Airlines’ (MONA.UL) landing and take-off slots at London Gatwick airport.
Among other mid caps, pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (MAB.L) which tanked on Thursday after reporting full year earnings, rebounded 3.8 percent.
Among housebuilders hit after poor mortgage data, Persimmon (PSN.L) and Barratt Developments (BDEV.L) fell 3.6 percent and 3.3 percent respectively while Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) retreated 2.4 percent.
Provident Financial (PFG.L) also shed 1.9 percent. The British subprime lender said Executive Chairman Manjit Wolstenholme died at age 53.
The troubled lender had appointed Wolstenholme to the position in August, with the aim of turning around the group and protecting its franchises.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, additional reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Toby Chopra)