UK’s FTSE 100 eases as St. James’s Place tumbles

By Khushi Singh and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 fell on Friday with St. James’s Place leading losses on reports of regulator pressure over fees, but ended the week higher supported by a rally in heavyweight energy stocks.

The commodity-focussed FTSE 100 closed 0.6% lower on Friday but ended the week 1.4% higher, snapping its three-week losing streak.

St James’s Place tumbled 21.8% following media reports the British wealth manager is under pressure from regulators to overhaul its client fee structure to comply with the UK’s new Consumer Duty rules.

British American Tobacco shed 3.5% after the U.S. health regulator on Thursday blocked the sale of six flavours of its main vape brand, Vuse Alto, in the market including the menthol flavour that makes up a large portion of its sales.

Limiting losses on the commodity heavy FTSE 100, oil and gas shares climbed 1.7%, as crude prices jumped after the U.S. tightened its sanctions program against Russian crude exports, raising supply concerns in an already tight market.

The energy sector ended the week 6.3% higher driven by the potential for disruptions to Middle Eastern exports as clashes between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas threatened a wider conflict.

“The upside risks to oil and gas prices triggered by the conflict between Hamas and Israel will add to the Bank of England’s concerns about whether it has done enough to reduce inflation to the 2% target,” said Ruth Gregory, deputy chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

The precious metals miners index added 4.9% on Friday and is up 8.7% this week, as the conflict in the Middle East lifted safe-haven demand for gold.

The mid-cap index FTSE 250 lost 2.1%, ending its fourth straight week lower.

Fund manager Ashmore shed 7.8% as its assets under management declined in the September quarter amid subdued market conditions due to weaker China economic data and high interest rates.

Next slid 1.1% after the clothing group said it has agreed to buy the FatFace fashion chain for 115.2 million pounds ($140 million), adding another brand to a fast-growing portfolio.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Sohini Goswami)