Directionless markets close down as Brexit fatigue sets in

Red was the primary colour facing traders’ screens on Friday as markets ended the week down.

Investors were left directionless with no Brexit deal in sight, but plenty of lorries forming long queues on the approach to the Dover ferry and Eurotunnel ports.

The FTSE 100 closed out the day down 21.88 points, or 0.33%, at 6529.18.

The pound was also down as markets shut for the weekend, by 0.68% against the dollar at 1.349 and down 0.39% against the euro at 1.103.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “A feeling of exhaustion spread over the markets like a thin fog Friday, with no sign of a bonafide Santa rally one week before Christmas Day.

“The biggest move was by sterling – understandable given Michel Barnier seems insistent that it’s make or break time for the Brexit negotiations.

“The main sticking – or should that be sticklebacking – point is fishing, with Boris Johnson calling on the EU to break the deadlock, while stating that ‘things are looking difficult. And there’s a gap that needs to be bridged.’”

Hopes of a stimulus bill passing the US Congress also faded as nothing had been agreed as markets closed in Europe. With the Dow Jones slipping, European indices could only watch and follow suit.

The French CAC 40 closed down 0.39% and the German DAX 30 was off by 0.27%.

In company news, the UK’s competition watchdog said it “continues to have serious concerns” about the funeral sector as it unveiled a number of proposals aimed at helping customers.

Dignity, one of the UK’s biggest funeral providers, has already faced a difficult year with Covid-19 not allowing it to sell a full range of services. The latest Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation update scared off shareholders even more, with shares closing down 109p, or 16.1%, at 570p.

Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) warned the second English lockdown in November cost the company £15 million. Bosses said the first quarter of 2021 is set to be “extremely challenging” amid current tiered restrictions. Shares closed down 4.3p at 63.05p.

Staying with restaurants, Franco Manca and The Real Greek owner Fulham Shore said sales fell 44.9% to £19.9 million with a pre-tax loss of £4.3 million in the six months to September 27 as it was forced to shut restaurants or operate under tough tier restrictions.

Shares closed down 0.5p at 9.5p.

Barclays UK bank chairman Sir Ian Cheshire announced he would be leaving the company as the effort required to drag the bank back from the Covid-19 made it clear more than two days a week would be required. Shares closed down 0.54p at 145p.

Shopping centre giant Hammerson said it is seeking a secondary listing in Dublin ahead of the UK’s looming exit from the EU.

The Birmingham Bullring owner said the shares will start trading as early as next week. London-listed shares closed down 0.16p at 25.84p.

And a consortium led by outsourcing firm Capita won a £1 billion contract to provide training services to the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. Shares closed down 2.05p at 38.88p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Hikma up 113p at 2,580p; CRH up 101p at 3,162p; Bunzl up 65p at 2,450p; Rentokil up 11.4p at 524.4p and Experian up 57p at 2,823p.

The biggest fallers were Land Securities down 42.7p at 667p; British Land down 22.1p at 478.5p; Flutter down 590p at 14,900p; Lloyds Banking Group down 1.32p at 34.9p and JD Sports down 30.4p at 811.2p.