* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct at close
* RBS rises as Natixis upgrades its view
* Tullow Oil drops on share sale
* Berkeley rises on rosier forecast despite London pinch
(Recasts, adds detail and updates prices at close)
By Helen Reid and Kit Rees
LONDON, March 17 British shares edged higher on
Friday, closing at a record level but with a stronger sterling
The FTSE 100 index ended 0.1 percent higher and
posted a small gain for the week.
A rising pound, however, added pressure on blue chips after
jumping on Thursday following an unexpected vote for a rise in
interest rates from outgoing Bank of England policymaker Kristin
"Mixed appetite in commodities added to the stronger pound
could keep the appetite limited," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya,
analyst at LCG Markets.
Royal Bank of Scotland was among top blue-chip
gainers, up 1.4 percent after Natixis upgraded its view on the
bank, saying the investment thesis was reaching a turning point.
"The time is near when the long-standing strengths of the
core bank will outweigh the material drag of legacy items," the
The bigger moves in British stocks, however, were in
mid-caps and small-caps.
Tullow Oil dropped almost 15 percent, after it
announced a 607 million pound share sale to cut its $4.8 billion
The rights issue was offered at a 45.2 percent discount to
yesterday's closing price.
"We believe today's announcement provides sufficient
liquidity to get through 2018 but Tullow may still need to
refinance its $3.3 billion reserve-base loan and/or farm-down
Kenya to avoid the risk of value leakage through project
deferrals in 2019 and beyond," said UBS analysts.
London-focused housebuilder Berkeley rose to its
highest since the Brexit vote, up 6.1 percent after it forecast
full-year profits at the top end of market estimates despite
demand falling in the capital.
"Today's statement is a clear signal of the disconnect
between the new build and second hand market," said Jefferies
"While London-based estate agents are feeling the cold,
Berkeley Group is warming itself in the spring sunshine."
Valve-maker Weir Group was up 3.3 percent after
Barclays upgraded the stock to 'overweight', forecasting
double-digit order growth over 2017-18.
The small-cap index outperformed other major
European share indexes, up 0.4 percent as biotech company
Circassia gained as much as 23 percent after it
signed a deal with AstraZeneca to develop and
commercialise drugs Tudorza and Duaklir, licenced by Spain's
Almirall, in the U.S. It ended the session up 5.4
The firm lost more than half its market value in June 2016
when its experimental cat allergy treatment failed a late-stage
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)