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Aug. 6, 2018, 12:10 p.m. EDT

FTSE 100 ends slightly higher as investors assess trade official’s no-deal Brexit remark

Analyst: U.K.’s Liam Fox may just be talking tough, but traders are selling the pound regardless

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By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch


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Just Eat’s stock is one of the FTSE 100’s biggest losers on Monday.

The U.K.’s main equity gauge finished slightly higher Monday, getting a boost from the pound’s drop after fresh Brexit posturing.

Investors also assessed another dose of earnings reports.

How markets are performing

The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.81% closed up by less than 0.1% to end at 7,663.78, after jumping 1.1% in Friday’s session but still registering a weekly loss of 0.6%.

The British blue-chip gauge is showing a drop of 0.3% for the year to date.

The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.2488% was buying $1.2946, down from $1.3002 late Friday in New York, having fallen to levels last seen 11 months ago.

What’s moving markets

Liam Fox, the U.K.’s international trade secretary, said in a Sunday Times interview over the weekend that there is a 60% chance that the country will crash out of the European Union without a deal with the bloc.

Brexit-related worries tend to weigh on the pound, and so sterling lost ground Monday. The British currency was down about 1.3% against the dollar in August, and it remains far below the $1.50 level that it was trading at before the June 2016 vote in favor of leaving the EU.

A softer pound can boost the FTSE 100, as the index’s multinational companies generate most of their sales in other currencies.

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Worries about global trade tensions remained part of the investing backdrop, after U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend tweeted that American tariffs are “ working far better than anyone ever anticipated .” That came after China on Friday threatened to slap tariffs on $60 billion of American goods if the White House goes ahead with its plans to impose new levies on Chinese products.

Meanwhile, China’s Global Times newspaper said Beijing is ready to dig in for a “protracted war” with the U.S. over trade. Equity strategists have warned that the escalating trade fight could weigh on global economic growth.

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What are strategists saying?

“At the weekend, Liam Fox, the secretary for international trade, revealed the possibility of the U.K. leaving the EU without a trade deal is 60-40,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.

“Mr. Fox might have been taking a tough line in a bid to gain leverage over the EU negotiators, but traders aren’t taking any chances and have been selling sterling.”

Stocks in focus

Shares in Just Eat PLC ended the session down 1.5% for one of the FTSE 100’s biggest drops after the food-delivery company posted first-half results. It was a bittersweet period, as the company delivered a profit fall but raised 2018 revenue guidance, a Dow Jones Newswires report said.

Shares in HSBC Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA -0.12% /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC +1.25% dropped 1% after the bank said adjusted profit before tax fell.

Tesco PLC ’s stock /zigman2/quotes/203761082/delayed UK:TSCO -2.36% /zigman2/quotes/207784767/composite TSCDY -1.32% edged down by less than 0.1%, giving up an early gain. The British grocery chain and French peer Carrefour SA /zigman2/quotes/208564127/delayed FR:CA -0.51% confirmed they have entered into a long-term strategic alliance, as they hope to use their buying power with suppliers to cut prices.

/zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed
UK : FTSE UK
7,573.05
+61.05 +0.81%
Volume: 1.36M
Nov. 30, 2022 4:56p
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/zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.2088
+0.0030 +0.2488%
Volume: 0.0000
Nov. 30, 2022 11:00p
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/zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
509.70 p
-0.60 -0.12%
Volume: 38.58M
Nov. 30, 2022 4:36p
P/E Ratio
10.87
Dividend Yield
4.45%
Market Cap
£101.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
£246,020
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 30.86
+0.38 +1.25%
Volume: 2.85M
Nov. 30, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
10.34
Dividend Yield
4.34%
Market Cap
$122.28 billion
Rev. per Employee
$312,823
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/zigman2/quotes/203761082/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
227.50 p
-5.50 -2.36%
Volume: 35.63M
Nov. 30, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
18.42
Dividend Yield
5.08%
Market Cap
£17.13 billion
Rev. per Employee
£183,190
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/zigman2/quotes/207784767/composite
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 8.23
-0.11 -1.32%
Volume: 254,595
Nov. 30, 2022 3:59p
P/E Ratio
16.77
Dividend Yield
5.13%
Market Cap
$20.56 billion
Rev. per Employee
$237,865
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208564127/delayed
FR : France: Euronext Paris
16.43
-0.09 -0.51%
Volume: 4.23M
Nov. 30, 2022 5:35p
P/E Ratio
12.42
Dividend Yield
3.17%
Market Cap
€12.10 billion
Rev. per Employee
€247,292
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Victor Reklaitis is a London-based markets writer for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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