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British stocks set for biggest weekly drop in a month

British stocks set for biggest weekly drop in a month
FILE PHOTO: Traders looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson   -   Copyright  Simon Dawson(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s main stock index edged lower on Friday and was poised for its biggest weekly drop in a month as a selloff in the global bond markets led by U.S. Treasuries dampened appetite for riskier assets such as equities.

The export-oriented main stock index <.FTSE> were also on the backfoot after the British currency rallied by a quarter of a percent after European Union Brexit negotiators said that a divorce deal with Britain was very close.

The index was down 0.6 percent at 7,375 points and is set to fall more than 1.5 percent on the week, its biggest weekly fall since the week of Sept. 9.

“Equity markets have had a choppy week and with bond yields breaking out, the focus will be on the U.S. jobs data later in the day,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets in London.

With the pound expected to strengthen more after breaking through some key technical levels, especially against the euro <EURGBP=D3>, stocks were expected to remain weak.

Monthly U.S. jobs data will be in focus, especially the hourly earnings rate, after a slew of positive U.S. economic data this week sent U.S. Treasury yields surging higher.

The sell-off in U.S. Treasuries – 10-year bond yields are up 15 basis points this week and set for the biggest weekly rise in eight months — rippled into bond markets in Europe and Britain and pushed stock markets around the world lower.

Among major stock news, Unilever’s decision <ULVR.L>, <UNc.AS> to scrap plans to move its headquarters to the Netherlands on Friday in the face of a British shareholder revolt sent the stock down 1 percent.

Shares in Intu Properties <INTUP.L> soared more than 40 percent after a consortium, including British billionaire John Whittaker and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management <BAMa.TO>, said it was considering a bid for the shopping centre owner.

Miners were the main draggers for the index with Anglo American <AAL.L> and Rio Tinto <RIO.L> leading losses.

The mid-cap index <.FTMC> was down 0.4 percent and the small-cap index <>FTSC> was flat.

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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