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FTSE heads lower as Lloyds, St. James’ Place turn in weaker results

An overall market cautiousness caused confrontational words over trade between the US and China combined with negative company results in London to push the FTSE 100 slightly lower. Other European indices fared better, boosted by corporate earnings.

In London an increase in sales by clothes retailer Next and the increase in its share price was not enough to offset the declines caused by weaker profits from Lloyds and investment firm St. James’ Place. The slightly stronger pound was a slight negative for exporters but the bigger factor were some confrontational words from President Trump directed a China which doused hopes of any progress in trade talks.

Pound firms as Johnson told Irish backstop could threaten trade deals

The pound is a touch higher as the US told Boris Johnson that Congress would block any future UK-US trade deals if the Good Friday agreement between the UK and Ireland was put in jeopardy through a no-deal Brexit. The US has been promising to sign new trade deals with the UK that would increase trade between the two countries three to four-fold on the proviso that the Good Friday agreement remains unchallenged.

For the pound this means an obstacle in the PM’s Brexit do or die plans and the market’s dreaded no-deal scenario.

The dollar is in suspended animation, barely changed against a number of majors as investors await the Federal Reserve’s verdict on interest rates later today. A quarter point cut is now firmly priced in the currency and bond markets and a different decision would completely upset the markets.

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