London stocks closed mixed after a Friday session that saw blue-chip consumer goods giant Unilever fly higher after it slapped away a $143bn offer from Kraft Heinz, which has indicated it will return to the table.
The rebuffed offer $50 a share in a mix of cash and shares was at an 18% premium to Unilever’s closing price on Thursday. The Dove soap owner’s shares bubbled up more than 13%, which helped pull UK blue chips higher overall.
It was the jewel in an otherwise bland session that saw the FTSE 100 close up 0.19% to 7,291.54, and the FTSE 250 end down 0.16% to 18,675.47.
Shares in mining, industrial metals and oil & gas producers were notably lower, as were those for food & drug retailers and general retailers.
The latter sectors suffered after official data revealed UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, suggesting consumers were reining in spending in the face of rising inflation.
All of this as European indices the Euro Stoxx 50, DAX and CAC 40 plotted a dreary course south, with political unease a key contributory factor.
French bond yields continue their recent rise on reports that French socialist candidate Benoit Hamon is considering merging his campaign with far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon under a single banner.
The markets are interpreting this as making a (euro-sceptic Marine) Le Pen victory much more likely.
Meantime, on Wall St, key equities ladders were heading south ahead of the long Presidents Day weekend.
US markets are trading broadly lower ahead of their long weekend, with particular signs of weakness in energy and financial stocks.
It will likely be the middle of next week before we can tell whether today’s drop was just a blip or the beginning of something bigger.