FTSE 100 searches for direction as miners fall

The FTSE 100 was up just two points at 7,001.25. Healthcare, energy and industrial shares were higher, but financials, basic materials and consumer stocks sagged. The index on Thursday rose 0.7% to 6,999.01, its best finish since Oct. 25.

For the week, the FTSE 100 is looking at a 0.6% rise. That would mark a second week of gains.

Pharmaceutical shares rose as investors assessed news that French drug maker Sanofi is in advanced talks to purchase Actelion for about $ 275 per share, according to Bloomberg. In London, drug maker AstraZeneca rose 1%, and Hikma Pharmaceuticals picked up 0.9%.

On Thursday, the pound dipped below $ 1.24 as the US dollar rallied, which helped shift the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 higher. Sterling was slightly higher Friday, rising to $ 1.2432, from $ 1.2421 late Thursday.

“The dollar is just taking what is likely to be a brief pause for breath after two strong days of gains in the wake of the tighter than expected outlook for the US rate hikes from the FOMC on Wednesday,” Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, wrote Friday.

Mining shares continued to struggle Friday, after taking a hit Thursday alongside a sharp drop in metals prices denominated in dollars. Antofagasta fell 1.4%, BHP Billiton shed 1.1%, and Anglo American lost 0.9%.

Oil stocks were modestly higher as oil prices held to thin gains. BP rose 0.6%, and Royal Dutch Shell shed 0.4%.

This article was first published by MarketWatch

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