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LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Ends Lower Thanks To Wm. Morrison, Strong Pound

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11/06/2018 | 03:41pm EST

By Mark DeCambre and Anneken Tappe, MarketWatch

Wm. Morrison's weakness weighs on index

U.K. stocks ended Tuesday's session slightly lower, as a decline in shares of supermarket giant Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC and tobacco giant British American Tobacco PLC dragged the index down.

A strong British pound versus its key rivals, spurred by Brexit hopes, also contributed to the FTSE 100's decline.

How markets are performing

The FTSE 100 closed 0.9% lower at 7,040.68, reversing Monday's 0.1% gain. The index has fallen in three of the past four trading days.

Sterling meanwhile last bought $1.3092, up from $1.3042 late Monday in New York, nearing a three-week high. The pound also strengthened against the euro , with the shared currency buying GBP0.8718, down 0.3%.

What's moving markets

(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-live-update-theresa-may-cabinet-irish-border-dominic-raab-leo-varadkar-eu-a8619636.html)While investors were awaiting the results of the U.S. midterm elections, Brexit news dominated U.K. market sentiment on Tuesday.

According to U.K. newspaper The Independent (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-live-update-theresa-may-cabinet-irish-border-dominic-raab-leo-varadkar-eu-a8619636.html), Prime Minister Theresa May faces continued troubles over negotiations to exit from the European Union ahead of a March deadline. May appeared to have clashed once again with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who had angered Dublin with comments suggesting the "Irish backstop" to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be limited to only three months. May in response had to call Ireland's Premier Leo Varadkar to calm the situation.

Meanwhile, U.K. Trade Minister Liam Fox said it was "impossible" to predict whether a deal between London and Brussels would be reached before year-end. This was followed by a report by the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46103051) saying senior ministers expected to reach a deal with the EU by the end of November.

Also in focus this week is a two-day Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.

What are strategists saying?

(https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/revealed-theresa-mays-secret-brexit-deal-3vvn3c0sf)"It continues to look as if the U.K. and EU will agree an exit plan for the UK from next April pretty soon, but it also looks as if the deal will meet a good deal of resistance from the UK parliament when members are asked to ratify the deal," wrote Steve Barrow, currency and fixed-income analyst at Standard Bank, in a Tuesday research note.

"The possibility of parliamentary rejection is likely to be sufficient to cap sterling's upside should a deal on Brexit between the U.K. and EU be concluded soon," Barrow said.

Stocks in focus

Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC(MRW.LN) shares finished the session down nearly 4%, among the FTSE 100's biggest decliners. British American Tobacco was also among the losers, slipping 1.9%.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Associated British Foods finished Tuesday's trading day 3% higher to lead gainers.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS -2.38% 2178 Delayed Quote.9.20%
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO -1.28% 2472 Delayed Quote.0.16%
FTSE 100 INDEX 0.28% 7234.11 End-of-day quote.0.00%
WM MORRISON SUPERMARKETS 0.39% 220.7 Delayed Quote.3.10%
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