U.K. stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday as investors waited for new catalysts to send the equity market into record territory. The FTSE 100 index edged down less than 0.1% to finish at 7,533.81, leaving the gauge just 0.2%
below the record close set on May 26.
The London benchmark has recently been boosted by a slide in the pound and by renewed confidence that Prime Minister Theresa May can hold onto her cabinet’s support for her Brexit plans. It’s up 0.2% for the week with one trading session to go, stretching its October gain to 2.2%. May has said the ball is now in the European Union’s court for moving negotiations along. She has also warned that the U.K. government is preparing for the divorce talks to fail and to end with no Brexit deal. U.K. negotiators are in Brussels this week for a fifth round of negotiations, but the discussions were put on hold on Wednesday.
EU leaders are holding a summit on Oct. 19-20 to decide whether there has been enough progress in Brexit talks to move onto the next phase in the divorce proceedings, including the all-important trade deals. European Council President Donald Tusk has already said there hasn’t been “sufficient progress” to move discussions along.Sterling
in focus: The pound traded at $1.3208, little changed from $1.3204 on Tuesday. Shares of Mondi PLC tumbled 7.8% after the packaging and paper group said
underlying performance for the year is expected to be modestly below market expectations. Smith & Nephew jumped 3.1% after reports that hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has built a stake in the British medical equipment company.
On the FTSE 250, Dunelm Group PLC climbed 6.3% after the homewares retailer said first-quarter revenue jumped 25%.
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