Sterling was hit by more Brexit bickering today, down -0.43% to $1.3165 shortly after 3.30pm. The key word was actually ‘deadlock’ after EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and UK Brexit secretary David Davis admitted “no great step forward” on a financial settlement or citizens’ rights.
That ‘next step’ is needed. Once taken it means the UK can then start trade options, an area on which it's on firmer ground generally. However Barnier says that the UK has yet to offer a divorce settlement figure. Plenty of talk about “co-operation” from both sides but little substance.
At one point the pound was down by -0.7% against both dollar and euro. The near paralysis drew criticism from the CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn: “The need to agree transition and start moving to discussions on the final deal by the end of the year is of paramount importance to firms."
Elsewhere US stocks gave ground slightly with the Dow down -0.07% at close to 4pm. The FTSE 100 closed up +0.30% at a record 7,556 high as the pound swooped lower, making overseas earnings look more congenial. St James's Place shares were up almost +4% while Hargreaves Lansdown shares lifted +3%.
- UK FTSE 100 7,556.24 +0.30%
- Dow 22,854.89 -0.08%
- S&P 500 2,552.89 -0.09%
- Nasdaq 6,603.41 -0.01%
- Nikkei 225 20,954.72 +0.35%
- DAX 12,992.62 +0.17%
- CAC 40 5,358.12 -0.08%
- Gold 1,293.90 +0.39%
- Oil WTI 50.31 -1.93%
Murdoch re-elected as Sky chair despite protests
Sky chairman James Murdoch squeaked through a re-election vote earlier taking 51.5% of the vote compared to around 49% from last year. As chief exec of 21st Century Fox and chair of Sky – Fox is attempting to take control of the broadcaster – some investors had called for his removal from his Sky post.
The attempted £11.7bn sale is now being probed by the Competition and Markets Authority though it has received approval from EU authorities in principle.
Independent directors also took the once-a-year-chance to oppose Sky’s remuneration report though their opposition lacks teeth – the remuneration report is non-binding.
Earlier this morning Sky revealed robust quarterly numbers with a +5% climb in revenues to £3.3bn and more than 160,000 new customers.
Royal Mail avoids CWU industrial action
Royal Mail has swerved a 48-hour postal strike from Communication Workers Union (CWU) members angry about pay and pensions prospects. Despite a 89.1% vote for action the delivery operator was granted a High Court injunction preventing a strike move.
CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger described Royal Mail’s legal bid as “the last throw of the dice from a scared and desperate company”. Royal Mail argued that CWU members were in breach of their contract until mediation talks were fully over. Royal Mail shares at 387p remain -12.5% down on their October 2013 launch.
Elsewhere Ryanair says it will approach the European competition authority to examine whether a €210m Air Berlin-Lufthansa deal was conducted fairly. Previously Ryanair described the pre-agreement negotiations as a “stitch-up”.