Stronger pound weighs on FTSE 100 as Brexit talks set to continue

(Reuters) - The FTSE 100 slipped on Wednesday as signs of progress in Brexit talks boosted sterling, putting pressure on companies that are big exporters, while a clutch of upbeat corporate earnings limited declines.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The export-heavy FTSE 100 .FTSE ended 0.6% lower on declines in pharmaceutical .FTNMX4570 and bank .FTNMX8350 stocks.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC, considered a barometer for Brexit sentiment, added 0.3% after sources and documents said the European Union and Britain were set to continue negotiations on a Brexit trade deal beyond an Oct. 15 deadline set by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The fact that talks are going to continue suggests there is appetite on both sides for a deal and removes a certain amount of anxiety because there is no immediately pressing deadline to worry about,” Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said.

After riding a global surge in equity markets on hopes of more stimulus, the FTSE 100 has come under pressure this week on growing domestic political frictions about new coronavirus restrictions to contain a surge in infections.

Johnson on Wednesday resisted a national lockdown and said he would stick to his localised approach, responding to opposition leader Keir Starmer’s demand for a temporary national shutdown.

In company news, money manager Ashmore Group Plc ASHM.L jumped 7.7% after the company said a rise in assets under management during the first quarter more than offset net outflows.

London-listed shares of Just Eat NV JETJ.L rose 6.4% as the food-ordering company reported a 46% jump in its orders during the third quarter.

Britain's biggest homebuilder, Barratt Developments Plc BDEV.L gained 1.7% after posting a near 17% jump in forward sales for the past three months, helping the broader sectoral index .FTNMX3720 gain 0.3%.

But online fashion retailer ASOS Plc ASOS.L tumbled 10.3% as it said it was cautious on the outlook for consumer demand.

Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich/Uttaresh.V/Jane Merriman