By Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal
(Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 rose to a nine-month high on Friday as a jump in oil prices boosted energy stocks, while investors remained focussed on Brexit trade talks with only four weeks left for Britain's transition period out of the bloc to end.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.9%, with BP and Royal Dutch Shell among the biggest gainers as major oil producers agreed to continue production cuts to overcome coronavirus-induced demand concerns. [O/R]
The FTSE 100 has soared 17% in the past five weeks as news that a working COVID-19 vaccine would be available before year-end sparked hopes of a swift economic recovery, but analysts have cautioned about the near-term damage to the economy from sweeping business restrictions.
Data on Thursday showed activity in the UK services sector in November suffered its first fall since June following a four-week partial lockdown across England.
The mid-cap FTSE 250, considered a barometer of Brexit sentiment, rose 0.3%, led by the real estate, technology and consumer staples sectors.
Brexit trade talks are in a difficult phase and a deal can only be struck if the European Union accepts that Britain is a sovereign nation, a British minister said on Friday after London indicated the chance of a breakthrough was receding.
"For UK stocks, it may well be that Brexit progress ignites a new bounce, but then it might do the same for sterling, dampening down enthusiasm for UK stocks at precisely the moment that they might be expected to shine," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.
"At present the market just seems happy to take any deal... but even without one, the hints about carrying on negotiations in January provides hope that there won't be a cliff-edge moment to kick off 2021, just yet more interminable talking."
McBride Plc jumped 7.3% after raising its full-year earnings outlook, while Housebuilder Berkeley Group shed 1.8% as it posted a fall in first-half profit.
(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Shounak Dasgupta and Jonathan Oatis)