Belfast Telegraph

Sterling on the up after euro hit by German inflation figures

The pound pushed higher on Thursday, boosted by investor relief in the wake of Article 50, as well as a weaker euro following disappointing German inflation figures.

Sterling surged 0.8% to 1.164 against the euro, which wobbled after German harmonised consumer price inflation came in below economist expectations at 1.5%, knocking hopes the European Central Bank might trim its stimulus programme.

The UK currency also gained some ground against the US dollar, rising 0.4% to 1.248.

It came as investors breathed a sigh of relief after seeing little fallout from the trigger of Article 50 a day earlier.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "With the triggering of Article 50 failing to spark a major catastrophe, beyond, you know, Brexit itself, it appears investors are willing to allow the pound to return to the highs it saw at the start of the week."

The stronger pound took its toll on the FTSE 100, which ended the day relatively flat, down 4.2 points at 7,369.52.

Multinational stocks on London's blue chip index tend to benefit when foreign currencies are stronger.

Meanwhile, the weaker euro helped spur interest in European stocks, with the French Cac 40 and German Dax each rising 0.4%.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices were up 1% to 52.99 US dollars per barrel (£42.43), after Kuwait reportedly backed a potential extension of Opec production cuts, which would cap output into the second half of 2017.

In UK stocks, Booker shares fell 1.9p to 197.2p after the wholesaler reported a 0.7% drop in like-for-like sales in the 12 weeks to March 24, down from 3.2% in the previous three months, as trading was dragged lower by falling tobacco sales.

It comes as the chain prepares for its £3.7 billion merger with supermarket giant Tesco.

Shares in sofa chain DFS dropped 2.25p to 250p after sterling's Brexit-induced slump against the US dollar had "some impact" on margins in the first half of the year.

The post-Brexit collapse of the pound has ramped up costs for British businesses and started to impact profit margins.

SSE shares dropped 23p to 1,465p as the Big Six providers said its retail gas and electricity arm will see lower annual earnings after more than 130,000 customers quit the group.

The group will report annual results for the year to March 31 on May 17.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta up 24p to 840p, Ashtead Group up 40p to 1,678p, Intercontinental Hotels Group up 90p to 3,937p, and Anglo American up 28p to 1,262.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Mediclinic International down 23.5p to 759p, Associated British Foods down 54p to 2,595p, Schroders down 54p to 3,040p, and BT Group down 5.35p to 317p.