(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock
markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* UK PMIs hit highest since Nov. 2013
* FirstGroup jumps on $4.6 billion sale of two U.S. units
* Mid-cap stocks snap four week winning streak
* FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 end flat
(Updates to close)
By Devik Jain and Medha Singh
April 23 (Reuters) - London's blue-chip stocks were little
changed on Friday but finished the week lower as growing
concerns over a surge in global coronavirus cases eclipsed
optimism from recent data pointing to a rapid UK economic
The exporter-heavy index ended the session flat,
with a fall in heavyweight energy shares and large dollar
earning companies including Diageo, AstraZeneca
and Reckitt Benckiser Group weighing on the index.
Sectors tied to economic outlook, including miners
and banks and travel and leisure
outperformed during the session.
Latest data showed a deluge of new orders swept through
British businesses in April as the country lifted some COVID-19
The report comes on the heels of a survey showing consumer
sentiment touching a 13-month high this month, and a report
showing retail sales soared past expectations in March.
"Collectively this week's data – from PMIs to retail sales –
suggests that the hit to first quarter GDP from the recent
lockdowns has been milder than first thought, but also that we
should be bracing for a strong, circa 5% bounce in economic
activity during the second quarter," economists at ING wrote in
The FTSE 100 has gained 7.4% so far this year on optimism
that speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and constant policy support
from the government would drive a stronger economic recovery.
However, it is set for its biggest weekly decline since the
end of February as a recent spike in cases in parts of Asia has
stoked fears of delayed global economic recovery.
The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index
posted its first weekly drop in five.
Transport operator FirstGroup's shares gained 4.4%
after the company agreed to sell two North American bus
businesses to EQT Infrastructure for $4.6 billion, including
(Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; editing
by Uttaresh.V and Richard Chang)