UK stock markets were lower this morning ahead of tomorrow’s keynote party conference speech by the prime minister Theresa May.
Both the blue-chip and the more domestically-focused FTSE 250 Index were down, although the pound was holding up against the euro.
The conference, being held in Birmingham, comes at a critical time for the Conservative Party, with Brexit negotiations poised on a knife edge and different factions within the party pushing various versions of Britain’s departure from the European Union, due to take place on 29 March next year.
Sterling holds up against the euro
Mrs May will have her work cut out trying to unify the different strands during her address tomorrow, which closes the conference.
This morning, the FTSE 100 was 0.13% lower at 7,472.31, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.36% at 20,328.16.
How much of this relates to the Conservative Party’s conference is debatable, given that the continental markets were also generally lower this morning. In Frankfurt, the was 0.42% lower at 12,287.80, while in Paris the was down 0.61% at 5,473.38.
Exchanges lost ground also in and . However, on Wall Street both the blue-chip and the broader-based closed higher last night, although the , which is associated with tech stocks, ended lower.
Sterling fared a little better. It was 0.02% higher against the at $1.2988, and 0.18% lower against the , at 113.7300 yen.at €1.1264, but down 0.41% against the
This is in contrast to the potential for dissention yesterday, when the umbrella topic “an economy that works for everyone” included a speech by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, someone widely believed by the staunchest Brexiteers to be pushing for a closer post-Brexit partnership with the EU than they would like.
Ministers stick to “Chequers” plan
As turned out, his moment at the conference was largely trouble-free. Mr Hammond said again that British business would need friction-free access to the European Union market after Brexit, but added, on the question of leaving with the EU without an agreement: “Be in no doubt that I will maintain enough fiscal firepower to support our economy if that happens.”
There would be a joint framework to interpret agreements, and Parliament would be free to choose to diverge from EU rules “recognising that this would have consequences,” according to the plan.
To get more on this week's Forex insights watch our video