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Commodity stocks drive FTSE 100 to fifth straight week of gains

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -Britain’s top equity index closed at a eight-week high on Friday, lifted by commodity and banking stocks at the end of a volatile week that saw concerns about higher U.S. interest rates and the Ukraine conflict rattle investors.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 1.6% to touch its highest since Feb. 11, with oil majors BP (LON:BP), Shell (LON:RDSa) and miner Anglo American (LON:AAL) rising between 3.7% and 4.8%.

“The make-up of the FTSE 100 is the biggest reason why the market is outperforming,” said Maarten Geerdink, head of European equities at NN Investment Partners.

“We’ve a very different landscape for commodities at this time … and the natural reaction from equity investors is if you want to hedge yourself against inflation, you want to buy into commodity exposure.”

The FTSE 100 logged its fifth straight weekly gain, and is up 3.7% so far this year due to its heavy weighting in energy and mining companies, which have benefited from a sharp rally in oil and metal prices.

Still, defensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals and utilities boosted markets this week as investors played safe amid concerns about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and prospects of rapid policy tightening by global central banks to tame inflation.

The European Union adopted its fifth package of sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products. Britain added Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters to its sanctions list.

The domestically-focused midcap FTSE 250 index closed up 0.7%, but still logged a weekly fall.

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) gained 2.5% to hit a record high after Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) raised its price target on the drugmaker’s stock.

Ukraine-focussed miner Ferrexpo jumped 10.8% after it said it was able to sell most of the iron ore pellets produced in the first quarter.

Online trading platform CMC Markets climbed 12.8% after its fourth-quarter trading update, while paper and packaging group Mondi (LON:MNDI) slipped 0.9% after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) downgraded the stock to “equal-weight”.

Commodity stocks drive FTSE 100 to fifth straight week of gains

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