Pound Drops after Brexit-Fuelled Highs
The pound retreated Thursday awaiting yet another Brexit vote, after the UK currency struck multi-month highs versus the dollar and euro thanks to British MPs ruling out a no-deal departure from the European Union.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed, boosted by the pound's retreat helping to lift share prices of multinationals.
"The pound has pulled away from its multi-month highs against the dollar and euro reached yesterday after the UK parliament voted against leaving the EU without a deal," noted Dean Popplewell, analyst at Oanda trading group.
Attention nows turns to Thursday's vote by British MPs on whether to ask the EU to approve a Brexit delay.
It comes amid plans by Prime Minister Theresa May to ask lawmakers again to back her twice-defeated divorce deal next week.
Market focus was also on China, with Shanghai's stock market closing down 1.2 percent after figures showed the country's factory output grew slower than forecast in the first two months of the year.
Chinese retail sales and investment were broadly in line with expectations.
The tepid readings highlighted weakness in the world's number two economy and reinforced the need for measures by the Chinese government to kickstart growth as the global economy stutters and the US trade war drags on.
Eurozone stock markets were firmer in mid-afternoon, with the CAC-40 index in Paris setting a new high for 2019.
Wall Street had closed higher Wednesday after data showed a pick-up in the US manufacturing sector, was little changed shortly after the opening bell in New York.
Oil prices rose after OPEC, citing secondary sources, said that the cartel's production fell again in February.
A production drop in crisis-ridden Venezuela accounted for more than half of the slowdown, it said in a monthly report.
- Key figures around 1340 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,190.74 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 11,597.03
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,337.62
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,338.56
New York - DOW: FLAT at 25,693.76
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3262 from $1.3339 at 2100 GMT
Euro/pound: UP at 85.19 pence from 85.00 pence
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1299 from $1.1334
Dollar/yen: UP at 111.59 yen from 111.17 yen
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 21,287.02 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 28,851.39 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 2,990.69 (close)
Oil - Brent Crude: UP 24 cents at $67.79 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 22 cents at $58.48 per barrel