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UK equities on course for best week since mid-March

written by Bella Palmer

The FTSE 100 rose 0.1%, with most European markets looking set to end the week higher

UK's FTSE 100 inched higher on Friday, putting the blue-chip index on course for its best weekly showing since mid-March, although oil and gas stocks came under renewed pressure after the UK government's windfall tax plan this week.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.1%, with most European markets looking set to end the week higher, taking heart from a Wall Street rally after the Federal Reserve minutes suggested it could pause its rapid rate hikes later this year.

UK-listed global miners such as Glencore, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta rose about 2% each as copper and iron ore prices were boosted by a weaker dollar.

However, oil majors such as BP and Shell slipped about 1% after Britain announced a 25% windfall tax on oil and gas producers' profits on Thursday.

Power generators such as SSE, Centrica and Drax ropped between 2.7% and 3.7%, while Harbour Energy, the biggest UK North Sea oil and gas producer, dropped 6.7% and EnQuest fell 8.6%.

The big shakedown will be how investors in the UK's oil and gas majors like BP and Shell will feel about windfall taxes, said Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

While not a long-term problem for profits, the incentivisation to invest their profits could see dividends trimmed, she said.

The domestically oriented FTSE 250 midcap index gained 0.5%, with transport group FirstGroup Plc extending gains for a second day after attracting buyout interest from an investment firm.

Both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indexes were set to post their biggest weekly gains in over two months, with banks and retailers providing the biggest boost.

Retailers have gained this week after the government's new £15 billion ($19 billion) package of support for households spurred hopes of more spending.


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