Sterling falls amid concerns over lack of preparedness for Brexit
Comments from Brexit Secretary David Davis spooked markets.
The pound fell into the red on Wednesday after Brexit Secretary David Davis said that there was no sector analysis done over the impact of the divorce from the EU.
The comments sent sterling down more than 0.4% to 1.338 against the US dollar, and down more than 0.2% versus the euro to 1.133.
Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, noted that the “pound’s continued problems” helped lift the FTSE 100, which ended the day up 0.28% or 20.53 points at 7,348.03 points.
“The pound is still down 0.4% against the dollar… with investors processing the lunchtime shock of David Davis admitting that the government hasn’t done a sector-by-sector Brexit impact assessment,” he said.
Mr Davis told the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee on Wednesday that the usefulness of an assessment of this kind would be “near zero” because of the scale of change which Brexit is likely to cause.
He added that leaving the EU will provoke a “paradigm change” in the UK economy on a similar order of magnitude to the financial crash of 2008, making economic forecast models unlikely to be “informative”.
It raises concerns that the UK may be less prepared for Brexit than previously thought.
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax ended the day down 0.02% and 0.38%, respectively.
In oil markets, data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing a rise in fuel stockpiles raised concerns about an energy glut just as prices have started to recover.
It sent Brent crude prices down 1.8% to around $61.51 per barrel.
In UK stocks, Hammerson tumbled 33p to 501.5p after confirming that it had agreed to an all-share takeover of rival Intu in a £3.4 billion deal that will create Britain’s biggest property company.
But the news sparked interest in its acquisition target, sending Intu higher by 27.1p to 226.1p
BP rose 2.5p to 494.25p as it announced plans to build its third lubricants plant in China for around 1.5 billion yuan (£169 million) in the biggest investment of its kind for the oil giant.
Shares in over-50s travel and insurance firm Saga plunged 38.8p to 142.5p after it warned that the collapse of airline Monarch had hit earnings and said efforts to attract new customers would impact profits next year.
The group said Monarch’s demise in October, which saw holidays cancelled for around 860,000 people, had knocked its tour operations business, leaving it with a £2 million one-off hit.
Mulberry jumped 48p to 1,065p as investors shrugged off a widening half-year loss, as the luxury handbag maker said that strong international demand and tourist spending had helped offset a slowdown in the UK market.
Chief executive Thierry Andretta said the UK market remains “uncertain”, with domestic sales falling 1% despite a boost from overseas shoppers taking advantage of the Brexit-hit pound, while overseas sales dropped 3%.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Whitbread up 280p to 3,990p, British American Tobacco up 178p to 5,028p, Reckitt Benckiser Group up 132p to 6,551p, and Morrison Supermarkets up 4p to 222.8p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hammerson down 33p to 501.5p, Micro Focus International down 46p to 2,427p, Worldpay Group down 7.4p to 413.6p, and DCC down 95p to 6,885p.