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26 Feb 2019 | 17:00

Stronger sterling stalls FTSE amid Brexit developments

The FTSE 100 continued to be held back by a stronger pound after UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised MPs a vote on delaying Brexit or ruling out a no-deal Brexit if her deal is rejected in March.

The blue-chip index closed 0.4% lower at 7,151.

In the US, investor sentiment was subdued following weaker than expected results from Home Depot and a negative UBS note on Caterpillar based on concerns about slower demand for global construction.

Around 5pm UK time the S&P 500 added 2.7 points to 2,798.

Brent crude oil was up 0.9% at $65.35 per barrel.


Ocado confirmed it is in discussions with Marks & Spencer concerning a joint venture, causing the shares to rally 11.7% to 990p. Shares in Marks & Spencer rose 3.2% to 303.2p.

Standard Chartered shed 0.6% to 615p despite posting a 5.5% rise in annual profit that was driven by higher margins and lower charges for bad loans. The bank also said it would target higher payouts to shareholders as part of a refreshed strategy that would involve slashing costs and selling off smaller assets.

House builder Persimmon gained 1.9% to £23.96 on posting a 13% rise in annual profit, as it completing more properties and sold them for a higher average price.

Builders merchant Travis Perkins jumped 12.5% to £14.29, despite swinging to an annual loss owing to a write-down in the value of its Wickes DIY chain. With the write-down and other one-off charges stripped out, adjusted profits edged higher amid a 4.8% boost in sales.

Mining company Fresnillo dropped 8.3% to 894.6p on reporting a a sharp decline in annual profits owing to lower prices and higher costs. The company also warned of another 'challenging year.'

Chemical company Croda International fell 3.5% to £48.81, despite it offering a special dividend, as profit growth was muted by a stronger pound.

Babcock International fell 4.6% to 555p after revealing that it would incur a one-off £10m tax charge due to Brexit.

Engineering group Meggitt slipped 1.7% to 550p on posting a drop in annual profit, pinned on a fall in the market value of certain investments. Underlying earnings, however, rose as the company beat its organic sales targets.

Marine services company James Fisher and Sons gained 4.5% to £18.92 as its marine support services segment helped buoy profits.


Allied Minds revealed portfolio company HawkEye 360 successful commissioned the three Pathfinder satellites launched in December, helping the shares jump 8.6% to 56.6p.

Surveillance technology company Synectics rose 1.2% to 199.9p after posting a 16% fall in annual profit owing to weakness in the UK bus market. Demand from the gambling sector was a bright spot and helped soften the blow.

Online gambling marketing play XLMedia plunged 33.3% to 52p as a change in strategy to shift away from buying online ads for clients would result in a one-off hit in 2018 and lower revenue and earnings in 2019.

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