U.K. blue-chips fell by the most in two weeks Thursday, as traders reacted to a defeat for the government’s Brexit bill. The setback for British Prime Minister Theresa May is seen as potentially opening the way to a softer U.K. exit from the European Union. Stocks remained lower after the Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate unchanged, as expected. Ahead of that, data showed a jump in monthly British retail sales.
What markets are doing: The FTSE 100 index fell 0.7% to close at 7,448.12, the largest percentage drop since Nov. 30, according to FactSet data, as utility and consumer-goods
shares lost the most. But the basic materials, telecom and tech sectors gained ground. On Wednesday, the index fell 0.1%. The pound traded at $1.3441, up from $1.3419 late
Wednesday. Against the euro, the pound GBPEUR, +0.3878% traded hands at €1.1412 as the shared currency fell against most of its rivals. Sterling late Wednesday bought €1.1347. Brexit was a major focus for Thursday’s trade after May’s government late Wednesday was defeated in a key parliamentary vote on legislation for the U.K. divorce from the EU.
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