StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100's rally lost most of the wind from its sails on a typically quiet Friday, a trading session enlivened marginally by the Conservatives using their newly elected parliamentary muscle to pass Boris Johnson's toughened up Brexit divorce deal.

Having rallied around 3% across the week, and 4.5% over the past 10 days, a little profit taking is unsurprising, anchoring gains to modest levels. The FTSE 100 index closed just a fraction up on Friday, nudging roughly 8 points higher but still ended the week at a six-month high of 7,581.96.

The FTSE 250 list of mid cap stocks, seen by many as a better barometer of national economic health, drifted modestly lower to 21,663.86, although that is off all-time highs of 21,920.69, recorded on 16 December thanks to a particularly strong Boris bounce.

ALL QUIET ON THE CORPORATE FRONT

There was little real company news to lend investors direction, although better than anticipated fourth quarter figures from cruises operator Carnival saw its share price leap more than 7%.

That sent the stock up to £36.04, topping the FTSE 100 leader board in afternoon trade on Friday.

High growth company investment trust Scottish Mortgage was also in demand, adding 3% to a new record high of 575.5p.

Heading the FTSE 100 loser board is private hospitals operator NMC Health as it continues to defend itself from various funding and operational allegations made by notorious shorter Muddy Waters.

NMC shares plunged more than 19% to £12.435 despite issuing a detailed rebuttal to the hedge fund's accusations. The share price closed ahead of the allegations, on 16 December, at £25.85.

Elsewhere, food delivery business Just Eat saw its share price slip 2.5% from 812p to 791.8p after its board backed yesterday's final merger offer from Dutch rival Takeaway.com. If passed, Just Eat shareholders would end up owning 57.5% of the merged business.

Shareholders have until 1pm on 10 January to vote, the alternative offer being the 800p final cash bid from Prosus.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell drifted 1.8% lower to £22.315 as it foreshadowed impairment charges in the fourth quarter of $1.7bn-to-$2.3bn.

The oil giant also lowered its oil-product production guidance for the period, but lifted its forecast for upstream and oil and gas output.

AstraZeneca rallied 1.8% to £77.71 on agreeing to sell the commercial rights to Arimidex and Casodex, used primarily to treat breast and prostate cancers, in European, African and other countries to Juvise Pharmaceuticals, for $198m.

Simon Lowth (and his wife), the CFO of BT, made his largest acquisition of shares in the group to date, the company announced on Friday. In total 425,057 shares were snapped up at 204p, lifting the CFO's stake to 582,436.

Lowth is contractually obliged to invest up to 250% of his salary, although there is no time frame. Today's deal takes his stake to roughly 165%, according to Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis. The purchase comes just weeks before watchdog Ofcom is due to publish ((6 Jan) its Access Review consultation, which will contain detailed proposals for regulating UK national fibre to the premises investment.

But the apparent show of support failed to ignite much interest among investors, BT stock drifting 0.15% lower to 204.25p.

Residential landlord Grainger shed 0.4% to 305.6p, having received planning consent to redevelop a housing estate in the London Borough of Lambeth involving 215 homes.

LondonMetric Property also lost earlier gains to drift 0.8% lower at 227.4p on news that it had sold two 'mega box' warehouses and two regional distribution warehouses for a combined £145.3m, of which its share was £141.9m.

Renewables investor Greencoat UK Wind drifted 0.3% lower to 149p after reaching an agreement to buy the Windy Rig and Twentyshilling wind farms in Scotland from Statkraft for a combined £104m.

BIGGER MOVERS AMONG THE SMALL CAPS

Cosmetics company Warpaint London sank 14% to 70p as it warned on profits and said it would split the roles of its current joint chief executives.

Sam Bazini would remain CEO while Eoin Macleod had been appointed to the newly created position of managing director, reflecting a more operational focus.

Going the other way, nanomaterials company Nanoco leapt 6% to 13.25p on revealing that it had received takeover interest from a number of interested parties and invited them to conduct due diligence.

Waste disposal business Renewi also rallied strongly, up nearly 25% to 33.75p after authorities in Holland lifted a ban on the use of thermally treated soil.

Financial trading platform firm Beeks Financial Cloud also jumped, rallying nearly 18% to 106p after reporting a pair of new contracts worth nearly £2m combined.

Biomarker focused Oxford BioDynamics jumped 14% to 118p after it entered into a master service agreement for the development of its flagship EpiSwitch technology with 'a top US pharmaceutical company'.

But marketing services minnow Jaywing slumped 25% to 3.5p as it booked a deeper first-half loss after revenue slumped by more than a quarter. That values the AIM market tiddler at just £3.3m.



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