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Jan. 15, 2019, 1:46 p.m. EST

FTSE 100 defends gains into the close ahead of crucial Brexit vote

Marks & Spencer announces job cuts, shares pull back

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By Anneken Tappe, MarketWatch , Emily Horton

An anti-Brexit protester stands with an illuminated EU umbrella surrounded in flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

London markets clung to their modest gains on Tuesday, as investors focused on a crucial parliamentary vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union.

Elsewhere, China announced plans to ramp up support for its economy, which boosted mining and oil stocks.

How are the markets trading?

The British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.5000% was sharply weaker versus the U.S. dollar, after earlier hovering near a two-month high. Sterling last bought $1.2724, compared with $1.2866 late Monday in New York.

The FTSE 100 Index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.47% finished Tuesday’s session 0.6% higher at 6,895.02, reclaiming some ground lost on Monday.

What is driving the markets?

Market participants were gripped by the impending vote on May’s divisive Brexit agreement.

Many market participants expect the deal to be rejected in the worst parliamentary defeat for any U.K. prime minister in history, with more than 100 Conservative politicians currently opposed to its terms. The vote had initially been scheduled for December, but was postponed as defeat seemed imminent.

In the event that the deal is voted down on Tuesday, May’s government will have three days to come up with an alternative. However, EU leaders have insisted that the deal already agreed is the only one on offer, and Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to seek a vote of no-confidence in the government that could lead to fresh elections if the deal was rejected.

Read: May in last-ditch push for Brexit deal votes — what the City of London is saying

Elsewhere, Chinese officials said they would step up efforts to spur economic growth amid signs the country’s economic slowdown is deepening, which helped risk sentiment earlier in the session. Beijing intends to improve credit availability for smaller companies, accelerate infrastructure investment and cut taxes.

What stocks are active?

Software company Sage Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/204528931/delayed UK:SGE -0.81% was among the big FTSE 100 gainers, ending the day some 2% higher.

Commodity-related stocks rose on the China news. BP PLC /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +0.80%  finished 0.4% higher, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC   ended 0.9% higher. Miner Antofagasta PLC /zigman2/quotes/200173667/delayed UK:ANTO -1.93%  added 1.5%.

Retailer Marks & Spencer Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS -0.07%  ended 0.3% lower after announcing over 1,000 jobs will go.

Paddy Power Betfair PLC  was among the worst performers during Tuesday trading for a second day in a row, closing 0.8% lower.

Persimmon PLC /zigman2/quotes/206444744/delayed UK:PSN -0.48%  ended 1.3% lower, despite announcing a 4% gain in revenues.

“Persimmon is still selling more homes at higher prices, but the rate of growth is slowing. That is to be expected in a cooling property market and following on from a pretty good run which has seen the house builder return prodigious amounts of cash to shareholders,” Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

US : Tullett Prebon
-0.0061 -0.5000%
Volume: 0.0000
Aug. 12, 2022 4:59p
+34.98 +0.47%
Volume: 485,098
Aug. 12, 2022 4:52p
UK : U.K.: London
736.60 p
-6.00 -0.81%
Volume: 1.09M
Aug. 12, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£7.50 billion
Rev. per Employee
$ 31.67
+0.25 +0.80%
Volume: 7.81M
Aug. 12, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$98.41 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
1,144.50 p
-22.50 -1.93%
Volume: 875,746
Aug. 12, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£11.28 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
136.15 p
-0.10 -0.07%
Volume: 2.84M
Aug. 12, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£2.67 billion
Rev. per Employee
UK : U.K.: London
1,847.00 p
-9.00 -0.48%
Volume: 412,945
Aug. 12, 2022 4:35p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
£5.90 billion
Rev. per Employee

Anneken Tappe is a markets reporter for MarketWatch. She is based in New York.

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