Pound shrugs off Prime Minister’s no-deal warning

The pound put on a resilient showing to close higher despite the Prime Minister telling businesses they should be ready for a “no deal” on Brexit following negotiations with the EU.

Sterling pared back losses from earlier on Friday as traders sought comfort from the EU’s comments that negotiations will roll into next week.

The pound rose by 0.24% versus the US dollar at 1.293 and was up 0.16% against the euro at 1.104.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Despite Boris Johnson’s best attempts, the pound managed to find a state of equilibrium as the week came to a close.

“It was the slim hope of progress, regardless of what Johnson – who seems to have abandoned his ‘oven ready’ deal – said that prevented sterling from spiralling this Friday.

“Elsewhere the markets managed to rebound from yesterday’s losses, suddenly OK with the fact that the world – or at least Europe – is re-entering a period of more severe covid-19 restrictions.”

UK-based multinational firms had a strong performance despite the strengthening pound, helping the FTSE 100 to rebound from a dire session on Thursday.

London’s top flight closed 87.06 points higher at 5,919.58 at the end of trading on Friday.

Europe’s other major markets also closed higher after they were buoyed by news that BioNTech and Pfizer claimed they have made progress on a potential Covid-19 vaccine drug.

The German Dax increased by 1.62%, while the French Cac moved 2.03% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones surged by 300 points on the opening following blockbuster retail sales readings, which significantly outstripped analyst forecasts.

In company news, Serco saw shares leap higher after the outsourcing giant said it expects profits to exceed expectations in 2020 as a result of the uptick in work since the global pandemic.

The company said the excess profits could now be returned to shareholders, with a consultation on dividend payments under way.

Shares in the business surged by 19.6p to 138p at the close of play.

Elsewhere, Wetherspoon tumbled after outspoken founder Tim Martin said he was unable to “rule out” future job cuts as the company reported its first annual loss in 36 years.

The pub chain reported a loss of £105.4 million after sales took a £556 million hit from the Covid-19 crisis.

It closed 186.5p lower at 773.5p after a tumultuous week for pub stocks.

London-focused pub owner Young’s slid 45p to 535p on Friday ahead of the introduction of Tier 2 restrictions across the capital at midnight.

Rolls-Royce jumped after it was buoyed by news that BAE Systems is set to build an aircraft called the Tempest and use Rolls as a supplier. The troubled engineering firm finished 26.8p higher at 221.9p.

The price of oil nudged lower after sentiment in the energy markets slipped in afternoon trading.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.3% to 42.9 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Rolls-Royce, up 26.8p at 221.9p; Smurfit Kappa, up 154p at 3,220p; Just Eat Takeaway, up 382p at 9,980p; and Experian, 114p at 3,084p.

The biggest fallers of the day were Land Securities, down 15.3p at 525.2p; Barratt Development, down 13.2p at 536.8p; BT Group, down 1.8p at 100.4p; and Taylor Wimpey, down 1.9p at 116.65p.