Pound slides as Brexit fears continue to grip market
Theresa May stated that a no-deal Brexit ‘wouldn’t be the end of the world’.
Sterling came under renewed pressure on Tuesday as fears of a no-deal Brexit again weighed heavily on the British currency.
The pound fell from 1.290 US dollars to 1.287 by the end of the session, while against the euro it shed 0.45% to hit 1.099 euros, its lowest level for almost a year.
The pound’s slide came after Theresa May stated that a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world”.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said that the comments helped exacerbate sterling’s fall.
“Theresa May, who’s been boogieing in South Africa, is responsible for the drop, worrying investors by claiming that she thinks a ‘no deal’ Brexit ‘wouldn’t be the end of the world’,” he said.
“The talk of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement has become louder and louder in the last couple of weeks, with the PM doing little to calm the market’s fears on this front.”
Trade Secretary Liam Fox has also recently talked up the chances of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement in place, having changed his mind since last year when he claimed a deal would be the “easiest in human history”.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has also warned about the increased likelihood of the UK crashing out without a deal.
The FTSE 100, meanwhile, rose 39.73 points, or 0.52%, to close at 7,617.22.
Associated British Foods, the owner of Primark, was rooted to the bottom of index following a fire at a Belfast store.
The building had recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment.
ABF shares closed down over 3%, or 74p, at 2,286p.
Countrywide shares were also on the slide, despite investors in the struggling estate agent voting through an emergency £140 million fundraising plan that aims to put it on a securer financial footing.
The fund raise means that Countrywide will be able to stay afloat and pay down part of its £200 million debt mountain. But shares ended down 1.5p at 13.4p.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Countrywide now has to retrace some of its steps and rebuild its business.
“Shareholders will be hoping the housing market doesn’t throw the estate agent a curveball while it’s climbing back off its knees.”
Bunzl shares were also in the red even as the FTSE 100 firm made its first foray into the Norwegian market and logged an 8% jump in profits to £197.3 million.
The outsourcing and distribution firm has snapped up Oslo-based Enor, which supplies light catering equipment to the likes of hotels, restaurants, hospitals and fast food chains.
Shares were down 5p at 2,325p.
In Europe, Germany’s Dax was down 0.09% and France’s CAC was up 0.35%.
Brent Crude was trading flat at 76 US dollars a barrel.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Evraz up 26.4p at 518p, NMC Health up 136p at 3,948p, Anglo American up 54.4p at 1,626.4p and Royal Mail up 14.7p at 479.6p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were ABF down 74p at 2,286p, CRH down 35p at 2,607p, Ocado down 8.5p at 1,071p and BP down 4p at 559.7p.