By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Sky's shares jump after earnings, while Standard Chartered's stock slips
U.K. stocks looked marooned Thursday, as the equity market's main benchmark showed little change, having rallied more than 2% so far this month to within striking distance of a fresh record.
FTSE eyes all-time high: The FTSE 100 index edged up by less than 0.1% to 7,535.72, keeping the gauge about 0.2% below its record close, achieved on May 26.
The London benchmark has recently been boosted by a slide in the pound and by renewed confidence that Prime Minister Theresa May can hold onto cabinet support for her Brexit plans.
The gauge is up 0.2% for the week and showing an October gain of 2.2%. It closed down less than 0.1% on Wednesday .
What strategists are saying: The FTSE 100 was "becalmed" on Wednesday, and additional muted action might be needed after the benchmark's recent advance, according to Ian Williams, a Peel Hunt strategist.
"A spell of consolidation may well be necessary," he said in a note Thursday.
Stock movers: Sky PLC's stock (>> Sky) was among the notable gainers, rising 0.7%. On Thursday, Europe's biggest pay-TV company posted an 11% gain in a key profit metric for the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Sky said new subscriptions were up 51% on the year and it is on track to meet its full-year targets .
Sky's update "suggests things remain pretty hard in ad land, but "these were pretty solid results," said Neil Wilson, a senior market analyst at ETX Capital, in a note.
Standard Chartered PLC's stock (>> Standard Chartered) was among the biggest decliners, falling 0.9%. In a rare move , the International Monetary Fund, in its twice-yearly Global Financial Stability Report, said the Asia-focused bank has a "weak earnings" outlook. Credit Suisse analysts also have warned the lender's current valuation is too generous.
Sterling edges up: The pound traded at $1.3246, up modestly from $1.3223 late Wednesday in New York.
A stronger pound can weigh on the FTSE 100, as many of the index's multinational companies make most of their sales in foreign-denominated currencies.