Despite Brexit tension, pound hits two-year high

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As currency traders held out hope for a deal with the EU, the pound jumped to a two-year high as the time for an agreement grew shorter.

London shares closed higher despite the strong pound as they were boosted by strong oil stocks.

The pound rose 0.25 percent to 1.348 against the US dollar and was up 0.27 percent at 1.110. against the euro.

The FTSE 100, meanwhile, finished 59.96 points higher at 6,550.23 at Friday’s end of trading.

“The FTSE was the biggest gainer of the day,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

The UK index hit a nine-month high of 6,650 points, following news that OPEC and, in particular, Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement on oil production.

Although Brent Crude was just 1.5 percent higher, BP was 3.9 percent higher and Shell was not far behind at 3.4 percent, supplying the fuel for the recent FTSE peak.

“This was also permitted by the U.K. Index to increase in spite of the pound’s own gains.

Elsewhere in Europe, the other big indexes were much more sluggish than the FTSE, dragging the Dax back down with cautious sentiment among traders.

Germany’s Dax was 0.21 percent lower, while France’s Cac was 0.62 percent higher.

Across the Atlantic, amid a mixed U.S. work survey, the Dow Jones and S&P progressed.

Amid speculation that the U.S. economy would require more financial support, the S&P reached another intraday record high.

In corporate news, despite claiming the pandemic had reached sales by 430 million pounds – more than previously anticipated – Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) closed in the green.

The group assured investors that it had recovered some of the costs as overhead costs dropped 25 percent during the fall closure and early signs are that good sales are being seen in reopened stores. Shares at 2,360 pence closed 57 pence higher.

After raising its profit expectations following an agreement to sell its 10 percent interest in the world’s largest wind farm project, energy supplier SSE reported gains.

After announcing the £202.5 million sale of its interest in Dogger Bank Wind Farm off the East Yorkshire coast to Italian energy giant Eni, the company closed 25.5 pence higher at 1,386.5 pence.

Cineworld plunged on Friday after investors digested the decision of Warner Bros. to release all of its 2021 releases on its HBO Max streaming service at the same time as in theaters, including blockbusters such as Dune, Matrix 4 and The Suicide Squad.

As Cineworld replied, shares in the chain closed 10.94 pence lower at 62.02 pence, saying cinemas are “the best place to see a movie.”

After the company reported a 17 percent decline in pretax profit over the past six months, Homebuilder Berkeley closed 89 pence lower at 4,764 pence.

After OPEC announced that its supply deal would retain reasonably harsh production cuts, oil prices were higher. The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil increased 1.53% to $49.17.

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