Little movement for London stocks as gains in pharma offset by other sectors

London stocks tread water as pharma gains negated by drops in chemicals and insurers.

Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers

London stocks were largely unchanged on Friday as advances in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies were counterbalanced by declines in chemicals and life insurance firms while rising bond yields further pressured market sentiment.

The FTSE 100 was flat by 10:15 GMT, with the FTSE 250 rising 0.4%. Both indexes are poised for a second straight weekly drop.

The yield on the 10-year UK government bond climbed to its highest level since December, weighing on equities. Shares of Legal & General fell 2.8%, leading to a 1.6% decline in life insurers after Citigroup cut its price target on the stock.

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Meanwhile, the chemicals sector dropped 1.4% as speciality chemicals company Victrex saw a 1.9% share price fall following a revenue decline last quarter.

On the upside, pharma and biotech stocks rose 0.9%, recovering some of the previous session’s over 4% slide triggered by disappointing earnings from AstraZeneca.

In corporate developments, Tesco announced it is selling most of its banking unit to Barclays for £600 million. Tesco shares rose 0.8% while Barclays dipped 1.3%.

In small caps, motor finance provider S&U was the worst performer on the plunging 7.8%, after its annual profit forecast fell short of market projections.

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