London close: Weaker pound helps lift stocks
London stocks closed in positive territory on Wednesday, helped along by a weaker pound, as UK approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for rollout next week failed to provide any meaningful boost to markets.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 1.23% at 6,463.39, and the FTSE 250 was 0.17% firmer at 19,877.77.
Sterling was trading weaker, last losing 0.56% on the dollar to $1.3345, and sliding 0.71% against the euro to €1.1040.
Earlier in the day, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, indicated that a no-deal scenario was likely.
“The FTSE 100’s ascent continues, helped today by a reversal in the sterling strength that has been such a feature of the past few weeks,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
“It is not hard to guess the cause of this change, as Brexit talks drag on without any sign of progress and the rhetoric from some European capitals becomes increasingly more strident.
“But whatever the cause, it has allowed the FTSE 100 to move back above 6400, putting it back on the cusp of another break to the upside.”
Beauchamp said it was not all down to sterling though, with dollar weakness that had seen the greenback reverse after some initial gains around the release of the ADP report.
“Commodity prices are looking stronger, bolstering Rio Tinto and BHP, which take the numbers two and three spot on the index today, although they are trailing the LSE’s 9% surge after the EU cleared the LSE/Refinitiv deal.”
In equity markets, precious metals miner Fresnillo rose 2.24% as gold prices advanced.
Security services firm G4S surged 7.42% after Canada's GardaWorld lifted its offer for the company to 235p a share, valuing it at £3.68bn.
The new, and final, offer is a premium on Tuesday’s closing price of 229p.
Housebuilders were among the worst performers, having rallied on Tuesday on the back of upbeat data from mortgage lender Nationwide, dented by worries about a no-deal Brexit.
Barratt Developments was down 1.07%, Taylor Wimpey lost 2.35%, Berkeley Group was off 2.84%, and Persimmon was 2.68% lower.
Sainsbury’s closed down 2.87% after rival Tesco said it would repay £585m of Covid-19 business rates relief to the UK after Britain's supermarkets came under pressure to return the money.
The supermarket chain said it had used all the money to respond to the pandemic but that its business had proved resilient.
Its move would put pressure on Sainsbury's, Morrisons and other supermarkets that paid dividends during the crisis to repay business rates relief.
Avon Rubber slumped 8.76% despite posting better-than-expected full-year results.
Workspace provider IWG was 6.71% lower after saying it would raise £300m in a convertible bond issue to help pay for a string of planned acquisitions at attractive prices.
FTSE 100 - Risers
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 8,754.00p 9.56%
BHP Group (BHP) 1,856.20p 5.65%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 5,239.00p 4.83%
BP (BP.) 267.15p 4.74%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 116.75p 4.15%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,353.80p 3.80%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,309.80p 3.26%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 418.25p 2.99%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,242.00p 2.99%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 1,418.50p 2.94%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 209.80p -2.92%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,751.00p -2.82%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,763.00p -2.68%
Avast (AVST) 472.60p -2.60%
Rightmove (RMV) 629.00p -2.54%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 162.15p -2.35%
Tesco (TSCO) 223.80p -2.23%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 478.00p -2.19%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 179.00p -2.08%
Kingfisher (KGF) 276.00p -2.06%
FTSE 250 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 246.30p 7.55%
Provident Financial (PFG) 316.80p 6.88%
FirstGroup (FGP) 65.95p 6.63%
SSP Group (SSPG) 360.00p 5.32%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 2,675.00p 4.90%
C&C Group (CCR) 239.00p 4.60%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 240.50p 4.57%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 232.50p 4.49%
Hill & Smith Holdings (HILS) 1,374.00p 4.25%
OSB Group (OSB) 408.00p 4.19%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Avon Rubber (AVON) 4,220.00p -8.76%
IWG (IWG) 328.00p -6.71%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 481.50p -5.85%
Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) 1,046.00p -4.69%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 380.00p -4.52%
Grafton Group Ut (GFTU) 864.50p -3.89%
Trainline (TRN) 463.40p -3.62%
GCP Student Living (DIGS) 142.80p -3.51%
Beazley (BEZ) 369.60p -2.89%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 741.50p -2.82%
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