(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London closed mixed on Friday, with the FTSE 100 finishing lower, but smaller indices ending in the green.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 21.64 points, or 0.3%, at 8,317.59. The FTSE 250 ended up 139.63 points, or 0.7%, at 20,770.93, and the AIM All-Share closed up 0.6%, or 5.00 points, at 810.02.

Over the week, the FTSE 100 was down 1.2%, the FTSE 250 up 0.1%, and the Aim All-Share was up 2.0%.

The Cboe UK 100 ended down 0.2% on Friday at 830.83, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 0.5% at 18,182.10, and the Cboe Small Companies ended up 0.4% at 16,607.81.

In European equities on Friday, the CAC 40 in Paris ended 0.1% lower, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt edged ever-so-slightly higher.

According to an estimate from the Office for National Statistics, UK retail sales fell in April, as miserable weather kept shoppers at home.

Retail sales fell by 2.7% in April from a year prior, the Office for National Statistics said. Sales had increased by 0.4% on-year in March, being revised up from being flat previously. Retail sales were expected to fall by just 0.2% annually in April, according to FXStreet.

"Weak retail figures shouldn't have surprised given the miserable weather we've had for much of 2024. No-one wants to go to the shops if it is pouring with rain and messages from many of the quoted retailers in recent months have implied that life is particularly tough for them, not helped by consumers still feeling the pressure of high interest rates," said AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould.

The data comes as major parties continue election campaigning. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak began his election campaign on Wednesday.

On Friday's campaign trail, Tory and Labour parties clashed on energy policy for the UK as the general election campaign focused on the prospect of cheaper household bills.

Labour leader Keir Starmer used a visit to Scotland to promote his plan for a publicly-owned green electricity generator, which he said would cut bills and boost energy security.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho set out plans for consumer-friendly changes and accused Labour of not being "honest about the costs" that their plans for net-zero power would involve.

The row came as regulator Ofgem early Friday set out the latest level for the energy price cap on average bills.

The watchdog said the average household energy bill will drop by around 7% from July 1, when the latest change to the price cap takes effect. This means the average UK household will pay GBP122 less per year.

Meanwhile, water regulator Ofwat on Friday said the publication of the consultation on its draft price control determinations for the water sector will be delayed until after the upcoming UK general election.

The announcement had been expected on June 12 but will now be made on July 11, one week after the general election. Ofwat said the decision was in line with Cabinet Office Guidance.

Ofwat sets price controls for the water sector every five years to ensure the industry delivers effectively for customers and the environment.

Following the news, Severn Trent ended down 2.2%, United Utilities 1.5% lower, and Pennon fell 1.6%.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2748 at the London equities close on Friday, up compared to USD1.2710 on Thursday.

The euro rose to USD1.0853 at the European equities close on Friday, against USD1.0830 at the same time on Thursday. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY156.93, down compared to JPY157.13 late Thursday.

In the FTSE 100, National Grid was down 12%, after losing 12% on Thursday.

National Grid launched a GBP7.0 billion rights issue to support plans for GBP60 billion of investment in UK and US energy infrastructure.

The London-based multinational electricity and gas utility said the investment from financial 2025 to 2029 will be nearly double that of the previous five-year period and will deliver a "significant step-change" in critical energy infrastructure in the UK and US.

Intertek rose 1.4%.

In a trading update for the four months to April, the London-based consumer product testing and certification agency said revenue rose 7.5% at constant currency to GBP1.08 billion, or 2.0% at actual rates.

In the first four months of 2023, Intertek reported revenue of GBP1.06 billion, up 11% from GBP951.3 million a year earlier.

In the FTSE 250, John Wood rose 4.4%, after it said it rejected a third takeover approach from Dar Al-Handasah Consultants Shair & Partners, known as Sidara.

Sidara is a planning, design, engineering and project management firm, founded in Beirut, with more than 300 offices in 60 countries.

Wood, an Aberdeen, Scotland-based consulting and engineering for energy and materials sectors, said the new cash offer of 220 pence per share continued to "fundamentally undervalue" the company and its future prospects.

Amongst London's small-caps, Avation rose 7.7%.

The aircraft leasing company said it expects to report a profit for the year ending June 30, which is significantly ahead of current market expectations.

Executive Chair Jeff Chatfield says: "The company is at a transition point in terms of improving shareholder returns alongside cash flow generation and growth. We are confident of improving returns to shareholders by carefully optimising the mix of sources of finance available to the company and are finding asset backed financiers to be extremely constructive."

On London's AIM, Genedrive surged 11%.

The pharmacogenetic testing company said that initial orders have been received for the Genedrive MT-RNR1 products from a further five UK hospitals in the Greater Manchester region. The total value of the orders is over GBP100,000.

Stocks in New York were higher at the London equities close, with the DJIA up 0.3%, the S&P 500 index up 0.8%, and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.1%.

According to the Census Bureau, US durable goods orders were stronger than expected last month

Brent oil was quoted at USD81.54 a barrel at the London equities close on Friday, down slightly from USD81.58 late Thursday.

Gold was quoted at USD2,336.80 an ounce at the London equities close on Friday, down against USD2,340.90 at the close on Thursday.

On Monday's economic calendar, an Ifo business climate read is due from Germany at 0800 GMT. Markets in New York and London will be closed for public holidays, however.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, there will be half-year results from bathroom retailer Victorian Plumbing.

By Holly Beveridge, Alliance News reporter

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