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FTSE 100 set for weekly gains on stimulus, vaccine hopes

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* FTSE 100 up 0.2%, FTSE 250 off 0.2%

July 17 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 was set to close Friday with its first weekly gain in four as hopes of more stimulus and signs of progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine supported risk sentiment amid a surge in global infections.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was up 0.2% in early trade, tracking small gains in Asia following a drop on Thursday that was sparked by underwhelming retail sales data from China.

Healthcare, consumer staples and utilities stocks boosted the FTSE 100, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 shed about 0.2% due to weakness in consumer discretionary, industrial and financial stocks.

In Europe, focus turned to Brussels where European Union leaders are expected to hammer out details of a 750-billion-euro recovery fund over a two-day meeting.

In thin company news, British Airways, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s, said it would retire its entire jumbo jet fleet with immediate effect after the novel coronavirus pandemic sent air travel into freefall.

Shares of BA’s parent firm IAG fell 2.7% amid a broader sell-off in travel-related stocks. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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