The rise and rise of the pound
Sterling has leapt to its highest level since the EU referendum result after a Bank of England policymaker hinted he may back an interest rate rise.
The pound continued its remarkable rally from Thursday’s session, pushing 1.4% higher to 1.358 versus the US dollar to clock levels not seen since June 24 last year. Sterling also climbed 0.9% against the euro, to 1.135.
However, the strength of the UK currency heaped more misery on blue-chip stocks, with the FTSE 100 Index falling 79.92 points to 7,215.47.
Bucking the trend was pub group JD Wetherspoon, thanks to growing full-year sales and profits. Shares soared more than 13%, or £1.45 to £11.89.
The biggest fallers were Carnival, down £3.17 to £47.83, Provident Financial off 35.5p at £7.94, Ferguson down £1.52 to £44.86 and Pearson off 18p at 568.5p.
Brent oil was 0.2% higher at $55.57 a barrel on forecasts of increased demand and reports of US refineries kicking back into gear.