Markets edge up as UK triggers formal Brexit process

Euro slips after Reuters report on wariness of European Central Bank policymakers

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Gains in energy and consumer discretionary stocks propped up the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on Wednesday. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Gains in energy and consumer discretionary stocks propped up the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on Wednesday. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

 

Global stocks edged up on Wednesday on the day UK prime minister Theresa May formally began her country’s divorce from the European Union, a decision pitching her country into the unknown.

London’s FTSE 100 ended the day higher by 0.4 per cent to 7,373.72, thanks in part to sterling. The euro slipped after Reuters reported European Central Bank policymakers are wary of making any new change to their policy message in April.

“The big talk of the day is [Britain’s] official request to leave the European Union, which we think is likely to be a counter balance for the markets for many days to come,” wrote in a note Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

DUBLIN

The Iseq index fell marginally to 6,577 on slim trading volumes, but avoided any of the Brexit-related volatility seen in the aftermath of the UK’s referendum last year.

Ryanair was down nearly 1 per cent at €14.15 following an upward shift in oil prices.

Food company Glanbia consolidated Tuesday’s gains by rising marginally to €18.05, while rival Kerry was also up at €73.99.

Bank of Ireland, meanwhile, was down 1.2 per cent at 23.7 cents in line with other European financials. Rival Permanent TSB was down at €2.39.

Insulation maker Kingspan, which has an expanding US business, was marginally up €29.67 while Paddy Power Betfair fell under €100.

LONDON

Britain’s FTSE index of leading shares closed higher on Wednesday after a choppy session following Britain’s formal triggering of its departure from the EU. The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended up 0.4 per cent, as sterling’s retreat stoked expectations more gains for the export-heavy index.

While the June 2016 vote for Brexit spurred a sharp sell-off in equities, the FTSE 100 recovered swiftly and is up more than 16 per cent from pre-Brexit levels. Though individual stock moves were relatively muted, shares in 3I Group soared 5.7 per cent after Morgan Stanley analysts upgraded the private equity firm to “overweight”.

EU antitrust regulators blocked a proposed merger of Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange , saying that the deal would have harmed competition. Shares in LSE rose 2.7 per cent.

Mining firms also provided support, with BHP Billiton and Antofagasta gaining 2.7 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively as the price of copper hit its highest level for more than a week. Gold miners Randgold Resources and Fresnillo fell as the price of gold slipped.

EUROPE

European stocks rose as energy shares tracked gains in oil prices. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.3 per cent despite the Brexit uncertainty. Energy shares were among the best performers in the Stoxx 600, rising 1 per cent after the EIA inventory report. Mining shares climbed 0.9 per cent, tracking copper prices higher.

NEW YORK

Gains in energy and consumer discretionary stocks propped up the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on Wednesday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped due to losses in healthcare stocks.

Oil prices rose more than 1.5 per cent after data showed a smaller-than-expected build in US crude stockpiles. The data lifted the S&P 500 energy index by 1 per cent, led by Exxon. The consumer discretionary index was up 0.5 per cent, helped by Amazon. com and Target.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, jumped 23 per cent to $110.37 after its cystic fibrosis treatment succeeded in a late-stage trial. UnitedHealth was off 1 per cent and weighed the most on the Dow.

Luxury furniture retailer RH was up 11.3 per cent at $42.41 following a quarterly profit that beat analysts’ expectations.

– (Additional reporting by Reuters/Bloomberg)