Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mixed day on markets against backdrop of political uncertainty

The pound was up against the dollar but down on the euro.

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from the rear entrance of 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London.
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from the rear entrance of 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London.

By Press Association City Staff

The mood simmered on UK markets on Friday as the dust settled on a tumultuous week in British politics.

The pound stabilised a day after its worst one-day drop since June 2016, climbing against the US dollar but dropping against the euro.

Sterling was up 0.5% at 1.283 US dollars and down 0.2% at 1.125 euro.

A weaker dollar supported the pound after comments from two US Federal Reserve officials were more dovish than expected.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said calmer political newsflow in the UK had also helped.

“The pound was in a more upbeat mood on Friday as Brexit panic eased and the pace of developments in Westminster slowed,” she said.

“Whilst we remain unsure as to exactly how many letters have been submitted to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, the pound was willing to focus on today’s positive political developments.”

Meanwhile the FTSE 100 shed 24.13 points to finish at 7,013.88. The FTSE 250, which comprises more UK-focused companies, dropped another 73 points to 18,589.

In Europe, the French Cac was down 0.06% and the German Dax 0.1% lower.

Massive political uncertainty still hangs over Theresa May. David Madden, CMC Markets

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Stock markets are in the red as investors are still worried about the political sentiment in the UK and Italy.

“Massive political uncertainty still hangs over Theresa May.

“Political commentators are questioning Mrs May’s ability to sell the withdrawal agreement to her own party, and a failure to do so could lead to a no deal scenario – which has spooked investors.

“The political fight between Italy and the EU is taking a backseat to Brexit right now, but make no mistake, another round of the eurozone debt crisis could be in the offing.”

RBS was trailing the blue-chip stocks in London after it was dropped from a list of the world’s most important banks, signifying the lender will no longer be required to hold extra capital in case it fails.

The bank’s shares were 7.3p or 3.3% lower at 216.9p.

Imperial brands shares were 35p higher at 2,638.5p after it said further research is needed around US plans for an outright ban on menthol cigarettes.

Tobacco stocks were routed earlier in the week amid reports of the plans by the US Food & drug Administration (FDA) for a ban.

Kier Group’s share price rose 31p to 856p. as it said it would book £10 million of costs in its half-year related to the group’s turnaround programme, but assured this is set to reverse over the full year.

It was a less volatile day on the oil markets, as rising expectations that oil-producing companies will agree to a supply cut next month pushed prices higher.

A barrel of Brent Crude was 0.65% higher at 67.06 US dollars. But it is still on course for a weekly loss of more than 4%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Micro Focus up 53p to 1,463.5p, Paddy Power up 245p to 7,205p, Rio Tinto up 109.5p to 3,910p, and Smurfit Kappa up 48p to 2,302p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Melrose down 11.05p to 171.45p, RBS down 7.3p to 216.9p, Royal Mail down 9.4p to 316p and CRH down 56p to 2,140p.

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