(Reuters) Britain’s top share index touched a fresh record high on Friday in holiday-shortened trade before easing at the close as weakness among cyclical stocks weighed.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended the session down 0.2% at 7,592.66 points, resting below the 7,600-point level first breached in the previous session.
The index had been in positive territory for much of the session, slipping lower in the last few minutes of trading.
“I doubt the FTSE would be at this record high had Theresa May and the EU not reached the point of the (Brexit) talks so they could progress beyond phase one,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Depressed cyclical stocks capped gains on the day, with shares in heavyweight financials such as HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds down 0.1 to 1.2%, while commodities stocks followed oil and copper prices lower.
Volumes were thin in the half day of trading ahead of a holiday. The market reopens on Wednesday.
Moves among individual stocks were muted.
While weakness in the pound helped the FTSE’s internationally-exposed stocks such as consumer staples earlier on, shares in firms such as British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands gave up earlier gains to end as much as 0.9% lower.
Sterling in focus
Sterling, and its correlation with the FTSE, has been a major focus for investors since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
The currency has regained some ground in 2017, which has put pressure on British firms that source the bulk of their revenues overseas.
The FTSE 100 has risen 6.3% this year compared with a 7.8% gain for the broader pan-European STOXX 600. Last year, the FTSE advanced more than 14%.
The more domestically-focused FTSE 250 has outperformed the blue chips so far this year, climbing more than 13%.