The FTSE 100 traded largely flat on Friday as the market digested the latest instalment of jobs data from the United States. The FTSE 100 traded at 6,507, up four points just before the close on Friday afternoon.
It has been a relatively quiet week for the FTSE 100 as traders remain cautious over continued lockdowns.
A handful of FTSE 100 companies made solid gains on Friday. Among the biggest risers were Shell (3.5%), Whitbread (+5.9%), and Glencore (+3.9%).
At the other end, the shares of Pearson (1.7%), Ashtead Group (-2.3%) and Johnson Matthey (-4.2%) were some of the top fallers.
49,000 jobs added to US economy
The non-farm payroll report, a measure of employment levels in the US, confirmed 49,00 jobs had been added in January as the unemployment rate fell by 0.4% to 6.3%. The new unemployment level, while down on April’s high of 14.7%, is still around twice the pre-lockdown level.
“The non-farm report failed to meet expectations which resulted in a dip in the dollar. GBP/USD rebounded past $1.373 as the dollar weakened against the pound by 0.4%,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex.
UK house prices
Building on a positive update from Barratt Developments on Thursday, house builders were again strong following the most recent report on the UK housing market.
House prices fell in January for the first time since May as the stamp duty holiday came to an end. The average price of a house in the UK now stands at £229,748. Analysts have warned Rishi Shunak against a sudden withdrawal of the stamp duty policy.
Commodity companies were among the top risers on Friday, topping a strong week for the FTSE 100’s commodities sectors.
Oil continued its momentum on the understanding that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members would tighten the market in early 2021. Copper prices jumped up on Friday with the expectation that Joe Biden’s stimulus and a more prolific vaccine roll-out could boost demand for the metal.