The pound made a tentative comeback on Thursday, as MPs passed an amendment which threw another obstacle in the way of a no-deal Brexit.
Sterling was 0.43% higher at 1.249 US dollars, gaining some ground after hitting a two-year low earlier in the week. It was also up 0.46% versus the euro at 1.112.
Its rise came on the back of an amendment passed by the House of Commons which will block any attempt by a future prime minister to prorogue Parliament and push through a no-deal Brexit.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Though in no way an ironclad insurance against a no-deal Brexit, it does make things more difficult for Boris Johnson – OK, or Jeremy Hunt – when he becomes Prime Minister next week, if only because it reaffirms the number of Tories willing to break the party line to avoid crashing out of the EU without an agreement in place.”
But the currency’s recovery did no good for top shares in London, which were in the red as trade tensions continued to plague global markets.
The FTSE 100 shed 42.37 points, or 0.56%, to close at 7,493.09.
Although it was affected by the pound’s strength, the blue-chip index was also responding to a gloomy mood across equities, with its European peers also declining. The German Dax was down 0.92% and the French Cac fell 0.38%.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “The trading relationship between the US and China still has a long way to go, and dealers are a little nervous that tensions could flare up again.”
Shares in fashion giant Asos crashed, shedding 636p to close at 2,307p after admitting problems at two of its warehouses will hit profits harder than first thought.
Stonegate, the company behind Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates snapped up the UK’s biggest pub owner EI Group for £1.28 billion.
Shares in EI Group were up 79.2p to 285p.
Low-cost airline easyJet’s shares took off, climbing 41.5p to 1,076p as it cheered an 11% surge in sales and revealed it has poached a new operations chief from rival Ryanair.
Power company SSE held firm on its targets for the year despite reporting a dip in customer numbers and the amount of renewable energy it produced in the past three months.
Shares closed up 11p at 1,164p
Reach, the owner of the Mirror, Express and Star national newspaper titles, confirmed it was in talks to buy parts of rival JPI Media, which owns The i and several regional titles.
Shares were down 1.2p to 79.8p.
Oil prices were down despite higher tensions in the Middle East, with Iran seizing a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
A barrel of Brent Crude oil was trading 2.8% lower at 61.82 US dollars.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were British American Tobacco, up 179.5p to 3,104.5p, Imperial Brands up 46p to 2,142.5p, Centrica up 1.6p to 89.74p and Severn Trent up 32p to 2,037p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo down 81.6p to 813.4p, Johnson Matthey down 158p to 3,046p, Ashtead Group down 77p to 2,189p and BP down 12.3p to 515.7p.