Pound falters as MPs reject Brexit deal for third time

The pound was recovering from another Brexit hit on Friday, as MPs rejected Theresa May’s withdrawal Agreement for a third time.

Immediately following the vote, the pound fell below 1.30 US dollars, after trading as high as 1.313 earlier in the day.

It later recovered slightly, but was still down 0.28% at 1.301 US dollars. The currency also declined 0.21% versus the euro to 1.159.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “While these trends may be well worn, reaction was relatively muted, because a high degree of political turmoil is already priced into markets. Until we get some direction on Brexit, the market’s likely to stay in its current holding pattern.”

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 added 44.86 points, up 0.62%, to finish at 7,279.19.

The German Dax was up 0.86% and the French Cac was 1.02% higher.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European stock markets are higher this afternoon as traders are optimistic about the state of US-China trade relations. According to reports, negotiations between the two sides were constructive and that has boosted sentiment.”

But Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: The markets are in need of another injection of trade talk, because last night’s dose is starting to wear off oh so slightly.”

The more positive macroeconomic mood failed to rub off on oil prices

A barrel of Brent crude oil was down 0.65%, trading at 67.54 US dollars.

In London, the ongoing dispute at Debenhams looked a step closer to being put to bed, as the retailer confirmed it had secured a £200 million refinancing package, half of which can be drawn down immediately. Shares in the company jumped 0.61p, or 29.09%, to 2.698p.

The retailer has now given Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct a week to make an offer or provide other funding. If neither condition is fulfilled, the company is likely to go into a pre-pack administration.

Astrazeneca trailed the FTSE 100 leaderboard, declining 361p to 6,135p as the pharmaceuticals giant announced it would raise 3.5 billion US dollars (£2.7 billion) via a share placing to help bankroll a major deal. The company is to pay up to 6.9 billion US dollars (£5.3 billion) to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo to develop and sell a next-generation cancer treatment.

Tui was also in the red, dropping 34.2p to 735.6p after it warned of a potential 300 million euro (£258.7 million) hit from the grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes. The figure is attributed to costs for replacement aircraft, higher fuel charges, disruption and the impact on trading.

Veterinary services provider CVS Group posted a 23.7% rise in revenue to £195.1 million for the six months to December 31. Shares in the company were up 16.15% to 83.5p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta, up 33.6p to 966p, CRH up 80p to 2,375p, Anglo American up 61.3p to 2,053.5p and BAE Systems up 13.4p to 482.4p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Astrazeneca down 361p to 6,135p, Tui down 34.2p to 735.6p, Berkeley Group down 70p to 3,689p and Taylor Wimpey down 2.7p to 175.45p.