FTSE closes at new high

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The benchmark FTSE 100 share index closed at a new high on Friday, up 5 points or 0.07% at 7,560.35.

Share prices were boosted by Thursday's fall in the pound as investors took in the prospect of only very gradual further rises in interest rates.

However, the pound regained a little of the lost ground on Friday, boosted by better-than-expected services data.

The UK services sector, which accounts for most of the UK economy, grew by its fastest rate in six months in October.

Over the course of the day sterling rose against the dollar, adding 0.17% to $1.3081 and against the euro, up 0.56% at €1.1264.

The pound had fallen to a near five-month low against the dollar on Thursday following the Bank of England's first interest rate rise in ten years.

While an interest rate rise might normally be expected to boost the currency's value, the Bank of England on Thursday reiterated that it would take a "very gradual" approach to raising interest rates further.


"A lot of speculation has been put to bed by the tone of the BoE yesterday," said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank. "The signals that we got was that it's probably a 'one-and-done'."

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at brokers Hargreaves Lansdown, said currency markets had "groaned" at the outlook for further rate rises.

But "resurgent oil price and some better results from Shell and BP didn't do any harm... The global economy is doing pretty well at the moment, and with interest rates still staying low, that bodes well for the prospects for the stock market."

The top winner on the FTSE 100 was private healthcare provider NMC Health. Its shares rose 4.29% following an upgrade from Deutsche Bank.

Airline shares were some of the biggest fallers with EasyJet losing 1.2% and British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group dropping 1.5%.

The falls follow a 7% drop in Air France-KLM shares listed in Paris, which analysts linked to the airline's unclear guidance on costs next year.