London market rises as pressure on Prime Minister weakens sterling

The FTSE 100 rebounded on the back of a falling pound, after it was weakened by intense pressure on Theresa May’s leadership.

London’s leading index closed trading up 5.27p at 7,334.19p.

Sterling tumbled amid rumblings that Conservative Cabinet members are making moves to oust Prime Minister Theresa May.

The pound slid to its lowest in four months as the Prime Minister pleaded with MPs to let her fourth Brexit deal pass.

In wider economics, UK consumer price inflation edged up to 2.1% from 1.9%, but political uncertainty has driven movement in the currency.

The pound dropped 0.34% to 1.267 versus the US dollar and decreased 0.3% to 1.136 versus the euro.

Tensions between the US and China have appeared to calm in recent days, but the European markets have remained unsettled.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Trade concerns are lingering and that is why stock markets are largely mixed.

“It seems the dust has settled in relation to the Huawei situation, but traders are wondering will Beijing hit back at the US.

“The trading relationship between the two largest economies in the world has been set back and dealers are on edge.”

The German Dax rose by 0.21% and the French CAC fell by 0.12%.

In stocks, shares in Marks & Spencer dived after it posted a 10% drop in annual profits amid a sweeping overhaul that will see it shut another 110 stores.

The high street bellwether said it is closing another 85 full-line stores and around 25 Simply Food outlets on top of the 35 full-line branches closed in 2018-19 under a previously announced restructure.

Shares in the retail giant plunged by 25.4p to 245.8p at the close of trading.

Royal Mail jumped despite reporting a dip in underlying profits and announcing that it will pay a smaller dividend from next year to support transformation plans.

The group will change its policy to pay out at least 15p per share in 2020, in a move aimed at freeing up funds to invest in transforming the UK business.

Royal Mail shares closed up 10.6p at 222p.

SSE slipped back in value after it pledged to offload its under-pressure energy supply business by mid-2020 after shedding more than half a million customer accounts.

SSE shares closed down 37p at 1,008p.

Pets at Home saw shares race higher after posting better-than-expected annual results, despite a bottom-line hit from its vet practice restructuring.

Shares surged by 20.5p to 168.5p at the end of trading on Wednesday.

The price of oil slid in the wake of the latest Energy Information Administration report, which showed a jump in US stockpiles.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell by 1.8% to 70.7 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smurfit Kappa Group, up 120p at 2,305p, DS Smith, up 12.1p at 333.1p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, up 52.5p at 1,743.5p, and Coca-Cola HBC, up 85p at 2,854p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Marks & Spencer, down 25.4p at 245.8p, EasyJet, down 57.4p at 927.2p, Persimmon, down 116.5p at 1991.5p, and Hargreaves Lansdown, down 107p at 2,292p.