Markets remain calm as possible election looms and EU confirms extension
Parliament did not sit on Friday but that failed to stop the markets from speculating over every cough and splutter coming from the corridors of power in the UK and Europe.
The Prime Minister is still saying the UK can leave the EU by October 31, the Europeans are deciding how long to grant a Brexit extension for, the Labour Party is either for or against a general election and no-one is any wiser on what will actually happen next.
As a result, the FTSE 100 closed out the week virtually flat – down 3.78 points at 7,324.47.
Uncertainty tends to affect the markets negatively, and through most of the day the FTSE 100 was down.
The pound was equally unsure of itself, down 0.2% against the dollar at 1.2822 and flat against the euro at 1.1574.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: “Despite the EU confirming it will extend the Brexit deadline, the pound remained in a bad mood on Friday.
“Though it agreed to an extension, Brussels withheld the new deadline date – that will now come after Monday’s Commons decision regarding a pre-Christmas general election – meaning the pound didn’t get much from the announcement.”
In company news, Barclays posted higher profits in the third quarter despite taking a £1.4 billion hit for PPI claims.
The bank increased adjusted pre-tax profit by 16% to £1.8 billion for the three months to September, beating analysts’ expectations.
Shares jumped 3.96p to 170.36p.
Advertising giant WPP also beat expectations, with organic growth of 0.7% in the third quarter, following major client wins including eBay and Mondelez.
Like-for-like revenues during the period increased by 1.9% to £3.29 billion, sending shares up 56p to 974.4p.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “WPP seem to be turning a corner as the company saw quarterly revenue increase for the first time in over one year. The group has had to reorganise itself, and seeing as sales are growing again, it could be a sign the group is over the worst of its recent poor performance.”
Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder of WPP who was ousted last year, revealed he has bought £12.7 million worth of shares in his new venture S4 Capital.
He paid £1.42 a share for 8.9 million of them. Shares fell 1.1p to 166.4p.
And British Airways said its pension scheme will be filled four years earlier than previously thought, as the flag carrier revealed it has been paying £450 million a year since 2015, more than expected, towards reducing the deficit.
It now predicts the £2.4 billion deficit in its pensions budget will vanish by March 2023, compared with the past 2027 target.
Shares in parent company IAG closed up 2.6p at 520.6p.
The top risers on the FTSE 100 were WPP, which rose 56p to 974.4p, Fresnillo, up 25.6p at 681.4p, Barclays, up 3.96p at 170.36p, Carnival, which gained 71p at 3,229p, and Burberry, up 41.5p at 2,022p.
Those that lost the most on the index were Coca-Cola, falling 78p at 2,327p, Hargreaves Lansdown, losing 52p at 1,739.5p, the London Stock Exchange, dropping 172p at 6,818p, Prudential, down 34p at 1,391p, and National Grid, which lost 21.9p on its shares to 903.9p.