The UK’s FTSE 100 hits a new record high, the pound falls, US stocks slip

  • The UK government confirmed that Theresa May, the prime minister, will trigger the Article 50 EU exit process on March 29, putting the country on track to leave the EU by early 2019, before the next general elections expected to take place in 2020. The UK pound was down 0.3 per cent versus the dollar at $1.2360, and 0.3 per cent softer versus the euro at €1.1501. The US currency was down 0.1 per cent against the yen at Ұ112.54. The single currency was up 0.1 per cent against the greenback at $1.0745. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a half-dozen rivals, was little changed at 100.31, though it touched a six-week low of 100.02 earlier in the session.
  • The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note shed 4 basis points to 2.46 per cent, while the yield on the 2-year note, the most sensitive to interest rate expectations, declined 3 basis points to 1.29 per cent. The 10-year UK government bond yield was down 1 basis point at 1.23 per cent.
  • The mood on Wall Street was cautious as investors analysed developments from a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Germany over the weekend, which concluded with a communiqué that dropped a disavowal of all forms of protectionism, in the face of Donald Trump’s America First push. The S&P 500 equity index closed off 0.2 per cent at 2,373.47. Shares of financial companies in the S&P 500 slipped 0.9 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed at 20,905.86. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was virtually unchanged at 5,901.53.
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.2 per cent from Friday’s 15-month closing high to end at 377.68. The FTSE 100 in London edged up 0.1 per cent to close at a record high of 7,429.81. The Xetra DAX in Frankfurt closed 0.4 per cent lower at 12,052.90.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.4 per cent to close at 5,778.90. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 0.8 per cent to 24,501.99, the highest level since August 2015. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite added 0.4 per cent to 3,250.81. The Japanese market was closed for a public holiday.
  • The revival of US drilling undermines efforts by OPEC, with allies such as Russia, to reduce a global supply glut. Brent, the international crude benchmark, was down 0.2 per cent to settle at 51.65 dollars per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate, the US oil marker, settled at 48.17 dollars a barrel, down 1.2 per cent.

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