Belfast Telegraph

Sterling makes small gains on quiet trading day

Sterling made small gains on an otherwise muted trading day as US markets closed for the Thanksgiving break and investors looked ahead to updated UK growth figures.

The pound rose 0.1% against the US dollar to 1.245, and 0.2% against the euro to 1.179.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.17% or 11.49 points at 6,829.2p.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at CMC markets, said: "Yet another day has passed without the index being able to substantially build on its key level. The pound, on the other hand, maintained some admittedly small gains

"To be fair to the FTSE and sterling, they have both dealt with the Autumn Statement with minimal fuss."

He added: "Tomorrow should be a bit more interesting. Not only do the US markets return from their Thanksgiving break, but investors get an update on the state of the UK's third quarter growth."

Analysts are widely expecting the second estimate of third quarter growth to hold steady at 0.5% , "though there will be plenty of hand-wringing before the reading is revealed," Mr Campbell said.

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax both closed higher, up 0.29% and 0.25%, respectively.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 0.1% to around 48.91 US dollars per barrel (£39.27) as investors continued to mull the possibility of an Opec deal that would see major global producers freeze or cut output in a bid to support prices.

In UK stocks, Marston's shares fell 3.8p to 132.2p despite reporting a 7% jump in full-year underlying pre-tax profits to £98 million.

The premium pubs and beer business said it was aware of the possible impacts of Brexit on consumer sentiment and consumer costs as a result of sterling's collapse, but said it was hedged against currency fluctuations into 2018.

Estate agency Countrywide saw shares plunge 24.4p to 169.5p after warning that profits will come in at the "lower end of market expectations" amid reduced activity following the EU referendum and changes to stamp duty.

Shares in HSS Hire fell 5.75p to 89.25p after the tool supplier issued a profit warning amid delays in the planned integration of a new national distribution and engineering centre.

Pets at Home shares fell 11p to 222.5p after the company reported a 12.4% rise in half-year pre-tax profits to £46 million and warned that trading had softened in recent weeks.

Shares in Mothercare fell 5p to 106.5p as the retailer said prices would rise between 3-5% in mid-2017 as a result of higher import costs on the back of the pound's collapse.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Direct Line Insurance Group up 9.9p to 358.3p, Antofagasta up 18p t o 719p, Ashtead Group up 36p to 1,496p, and CRH up 57p to 2,706p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were National Grid down 21.8p at 909.9p, easyJet down 24p to 1,022p, Intercontinental Consolidated Airlines Group down 10.1p to 440.5p, and DCC down 125p to 6,200p.