Stronger pound and mixed earnings keep FTSE negative

The pound has rallied hard across the session, boosted by progress in the Brexit camp and a tentative deal for the UK financial services sector. Encouraging words from Mark Carney over the health of the economy should a Brexit deal be achieved have also offered support, helping sterling jump 1.5% versus the dollar.

The pound has rallied hard across the session, boosted by progress in the Brexit camp and a tentative deal for the UK financial services sector. Encouraging words from Mark Carney over the health of the economy should a Brexit deal be achieved have also offered support, helping sterling jump 1.5% versus the dollar.

As expected the central bank voted unanimously to keep rates on hold at 0.75%. Warnings from BoE Governor Mark Carney over a no deal Brexit fell on deaf ears, as pound traders giddily brought into the idea that a Brexit deal is in sight and that a deal would steepen the path of interest rate rises. The BoE highlighted resilience from the UK consumer, whose spending was supporting the economy, whilst business investment was stalling on Brexit uncertainty. Unsurprisingly Brexit remains the key deciding factor for the central bank. The BoE continues to use an orderly Brexit as its base case scenario. However the direction of policy will ultimately depend on whether this materialises or whether the UK crashes out of the EU. The BoE was more hawkish than the market was expecting, which explains the continued moved higher in the pound. Yet, the reality is we still have to wait and see whether an orderly Brexit will be achieved.

Mixed bag of earnings
The Brexit and BoE boosted pound weighed on the FTSE, which only managed a brief stint in the black before moving back into negative territory for the close. Strong earnings from the likes of BT, JustEat and Smith & Nephew saw their share prices rocket. Yet this was matched on the downside by a selloff in heavy weight oil majors following disappointing figures from Shell. 

Wall Street, refused to take the lead from a flatline finish for Europe, powering higher on US - Sino trade talk optimism and ahead of Apple’s results, due after the closing bell this evening.

Apple reports after the close
Despite a slew of new gadgets and services offered by Apple, the iPhone is the central piece reigning over Apple’s fortunes. Smartphones are responsible for over 60% of revenues and Apple are expected to have shifted 48.4 million in Q4, with 77.7 million forecast to be sold in Q1. Guidance will be central to driving demand for shares. The focus of Apple’s earnings will be on the new iPhone XR. This will be the first real insight into its performance, with the market expected to focus on the forecast covering the all-important holiday season. The lower priced XR model is expected to lure customers of older models to upgrade. 
Sentiment towards the US tech sector and the FAANG’s is extremely fragile. Apple is central to any recovery. Impressive results from Apple could go a long way to restoring investor confidence in the sector.

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