LONDON MARKETS: Brexit Hopes Sends British Pound To Highest Level Of Johnson Administration As U.K. Banks Soar
By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
FTSE 250 has 21 firms with gains of at least 10%
Growing hopes that U.K. and European leaders can reach an agreed
deal for Britain to leave the European Union pushed the British
pound higher for a second day on Friday.
The pound rose as high as $1.2706, up from $1.2444 on Thursday,
a day when the U.K. currency had its best single day percentage
advance since March. Taken together, it's the best two days of
gains in over a decade.
It's the strongest sterling has been since Theresa May was prime
minister. Boris Johnson stepped into the No. 10 Downing Street on
European Council President Donald Tusk -- who has tweeted
criticism at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- on Friday said
he received promising signals from Ireland's Leo Varadkar that a
deal is possible.
The European Commission meanwhile said Michel Barnier had a
"constructive" meeting with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on
Friday. The European Union says it has agreed with the United
Kingdom to "intensify" Brexit negotiations in a belated attempt to
reach a divorce deal ahead of Oct. 31, when Britain is scheduled to
leave the bloc.
"The change in tone yesterday from the Irish government and the
silence on the U.K. side indeed suggests the U.K. has made some
notable concessions," said analysts at Citi, who said they remained
skeptical a deal can be reached by Oct. 31, and that the more
likely path is an extension of the Article 50 deadline and a
The pound's strength weighed on U.K. stocks, as the FTSE 100
increased 0.84% to 7247.08, which isn't as strong as the rise made
by European rivals. Read Europe Markets
The Brexit hopes did lift U.K. banks Lloyds Banking Group
(LLOY.LN) , which rose 12.3%, and the Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.LN) , which rose 11.5%. The big multinational pharmaceuticals
lost ground, with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.LN) falling 2.2% and
AstraZeneca (AZN.LN) losing 1.9%.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 rose 4.19% to 20041.70, its best single-day
percentage rise in nine years. There were 21 components that saw
gains of at least 10%.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 12, 2019 09:29 ET (13:29 GMT)
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