FTSE 100 buoyed by shaky pound amid Brexit trade deal caution

The London markets jumped as they were buoyed by weakness in the pound following the latest clash between Boris Johnson and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Multinational firms were the big winners on a day dominated by increased trade caution over Brexit.

The FTSE 100 closed 40.3 points higher at 7,326.31 at the end of trading on Monday.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “The FTSE’s surge was largely rooted in the pound’s renewed Brexit migraine.

“Sterling fell against the dollar and against the euro as Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier laid out their conflicting positions on the future of the UK-EU trade relationship ahead of the start of talks in March.

“The Prime Minister doesn’t want to have to stick to EU rules and regulations – the bloc’s chief negotiator claims Johnson has already agreed to do exactly that.”

Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier
The dispute between Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier has affected the markets (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The value of the pound decreased 1.3% versus the US dollar at 1.300 and slipped 1.02% against the euro at 1.175.

Sterling also shrugged off a better-than-expected set of manufacturing output figures for January, as businesses still showed caution over Brexit and reported a second consecutive month of falling exports.

The UK markets strengthened in afternoon trading after a strong opening on Wall Street, which saw the Dow Jones open higher as traders blew off coronavirus concerns.

The major European markets were slightly more muted but still pushed higher as Western investors were reassured by news that state-backed investors have been buying stocks in China.

The German Dax increased by 0.49% while the French Cac moved 0.45% higher.

In company news, Ryanair shares jumped higher after the budget airline hailed a strong Christmas and new year, resulting in a 6% rise in customer numbers to 36 million in the three months to December.

However, the company also tempered its long-term expectations as it is forced to keep running without the Boeing planes it was hoping would be delivered more than six months ago. Shares increased by 0.99 euro to 15.84 euro on Monday.

EasyJet led the FTSE 100 as Ryanair’s positive trading update helped to drive optimism among traders. Shares in the company were 53.5p higher at 1,446.5p at the end of trading.

Elsewhere, magazine publisher Future closed higher after it said its full-year performance is expected to surpass market expectations.

The positive trading update came days after it was attacked by short seller Shadowfall over the price of its stock. Shares moved 52p higher to 1,332p at the close of play.

NMC Health led the fallers on the FTSE 100, with the company, which has slumped in recent months following short-seller attacks, closing 256p lower at 1,036p.

The price of oil slipped further as traders remain fearful that China’s demand for the energy will tumble.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell 3.64% to 64.58 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were EasyJet, up 53.5p at 1,446.5p, Auto Trader, up 17.2p at 579.2p, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, up 17p at 598p, and Diageo, up 88p at 3,098p.

The biggest fallers on the index were NMC Health, down 256p at 1,036p, Polymetal, down 29p at 1,257p, Royal Dutch Shell B, down 36.8p at 1,963.2p, and Royal Dutch Shell A, down 30p at 1,964.4p.

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