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LONDON MARKETS: London Markets Inch Up As Investors Puzzle Over Brexit

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03/13/2019 | 09:41am EDT

By Emily Horton

London markets were flat on Wednesday, after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's revised Brexit agreement was rejected by U.K. lawmakers.

But in further votes due later today, the U.K. parliament is likely to vote to definitively rule out leaving the EU without a deal.

How did markets perform?

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 hovered around the break-even line, last up 0.2% to 7,170.29. The market finished up 0.3% on Tuesday.

The British pound recovered some of Tuesday's losses , jumping 0.6% to $1.3159 from $1.3073 late Tuesday evening in New York.

What's driving the markets?

On Tuesday evening, May's Brexit withdrawal deal was rejected by parliament for the second time, by 391 votes to 242.

"The government has wasted the last two years and this is mainly due to [May] because Theresa May knew that her own party isn't supporting her on this deal. Despite this, she tried to trick them with her set of tactics... we have lost Brexit now," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst, ThinkMarkets said in a client note.

"So far the market has priced in a rejection of no deal Brexit. What isn't priced is how long the extension of the Brexit deadline will be, and most important, the difficulties involved in this process to secure such a deadline," he added.

Later today U.K. lawmakers will hold further Brexit votes. May has offered a vote on leaving the EU with no agreement in place; a concession to parliament's pro-Europeans, as MPs are widely expected to reject that notion with a large majority.

Against this backdrop, Wednesday's statement on the U.K.'s public finances from chancellor Philip Hammond is likely to be overshadowed.

"In the absence of a smooth transition at the end of this month any government forecasts for the U.K. economy are likely to be no more than educated guesses. The one plus point is that fiscal Phil has managed to build up a decent buffer due to better than expected tax receipts over the past 12 months." Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets U.K., told clients in a note.

What stocks are active?

Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (SLA.LN) added almost 3%, after the GBP552bn asset manager ditched its co-chief executive structure less than two years after it was put in place, giving Keith Skeoch sole oversight. However, the firm also reported a 1.5% fall in profits in 2018 .

Food retailer Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRW.LN) initially surged, but then fell back 0.7% as it reported a dip in profit . According to a client note from Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, results showed "impressive revenue growth with ex-fuel sales +5.1%, the best performance in a decade".

Shares in insurance group Prudential also had a volatile morning, but stabilized around 0.1% up, after the group announced its profit rose in 2018 , spurred on by its new business expansion in Asia.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
FTSE 100 INDEX 0.28% 7234.11 End-of-day quote.0.00%
PRUDENTIAL PLC -3.26% 1559.5 Delayed Quote.11.23%
WM MORRISON SUPERMARKETS -0.16% 224.35 Delayed Quote.5.21%
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