Banks bolster FTSE 100

Natwest owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Barclays (BARC) were among the top risers on the FTSE 100 as investors priced the increased likelihood of an interest rate rise.

The changed outlook emerged after one member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to raise interest rates on Thursday.

Stable oil prices also lifted Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) by 1.2% and helped to offset weakness in utilities.

The FTSE 100 advanced 0.2% to 7,429.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil slipped 0.6% higher to $49 and $52 per barrel, respectively.

Gold was stable at $1,227 per ounce and copper retreated 0.3% to $5,864 per tonne.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

In the US, pharmaceutical firms such as Merck and Pfizer weighed on investors sentiment, causing both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 to close approximately 0.1% lower.

In Asia, the markets focused on the G20 meeting in Germany as Japan's Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng were flat on Friday, while the Chinese index SSE Composite fell by 1%.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Housebuilder Berkeley (BKG) excited the market as its pre-tax profit for the year to 30 April will be at the top end of market forecasts. It said the London and South East property market is returning to normal. However, it reported a 16% decline in reservations year-on-year between August 2016 and February 2017. Berkeley's share price rose 5.9% to £31.38.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Tullow Oil (TLW) announced a $750m rights issue to help strengthen its balance sheet, although this will only partially fix its big debt problem. The oil and gas producer had $4.8bn net debt at the end of 2016. The stock tumbled 15.7% to 199.9p.

Despite a new contract with the US Air Force Civil Engineer Center, shares in Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) were flat as it remains in a merger situation with Wood Group (WG.).

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Stockbroker Panmure Gordon (PMR) received a 100p cash per share takeover offer from Middle Eastern investor and shareholder QInvest and Atlas Merchant. The offer was a 68% premium to last night's closing price. Panmure soared 63.6% to 97.3p on the news.

Circassia Pharma (CIR) struck a deal to buy US commercial rights to two products from drugs giant AstraZeneca (AZN). It will see the latter business become a shareholder in Circassia and sent its shares shooting 14.6% higher to 100p.

The private equity backers of budget-friendly The Gym Group (GYM) finally sold their remaining shares in the business. Phoenix and Bridges Capital offloaded their remaining stock at 175p per share, which was sold to institutional investors and represented 30.5% of Gym's issued share capital.

Henderson High Income Trust (HHI) announced it will acquire Threadneedle UK Select Trust (UKT) through a merger. Threadneedle said it struggled to close a large discount to net asset value, so it had to take action by combining forces with another investment trust. Shares in both products nudged higher on the news.

Electronics group Laird (LRD) fell 38.9% as the price adjusted for a rights issue announced in February.

Marketing tech group Adgorithms (ADGO) won a 'significant' contract with one of the world's largest nutrition, health and wellness companies. It reported the contract will generate at least $300,000 of annual software-as-a-service fees. The market liked the news, marking the stock 21% higher.

Another small cap exciting investors with a major contract win was billing software specialist Cerillion (CER). It sealed a deal worth £2.4m with a wholesale telecoms operator in Europe.

AIM-listed Ortac Resources (OTC) was re-issued with an underground mining permit by the District Mining Bureau in Banska Bystrica, triggering a share price rise of 26.7%.