December 20, 2019 / 8:33 AM / a month ago

FTSE wraps best week in three years ahead of Christmas

(Reuters) - London’s main index enjoyed its best weekly performance since December 2016, as shares of exporters continued to benefit from a pound that is subdued amid renewed concerns about a chaotic Brexit at the end of 2020.

FILE PHOTO: Traders looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The FTSE 100 .FTSE inched 0.1% higher on Friday, also clocking its longest winning streak since May 2017 and the FTSE 250 .FTMC managed to squeeze in a 0.04% gain as Prime Minister Boris Johnson won approval for his Brexit deal.

After a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks and Johnson’s election victory this month, investors now drew solace from Johnson’s first step towards fulfilling his campaign pledge to deliver Brexit by Jan. 31.

“The fact that the bill was successful might have been reassuring to the pound – the faster things move, the more time there might be to hash out a trade deal with the EU,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Lawmakers voted by 358 to 234 to pass the second reading of the legislation, underlining Johnson’s large majority in parliament that should ensure a smooth ratification of the divorce deal.

Johnson’s win triggered a rally in domestically-exposed stocks, though worries about Brexit have re-emerged due to a new provision for a hard, December 2020 deadline to reach a trade agreement with the European Union.

Sterling hovered near two-week lows, helping exporter stocks such as Diageo (DGE.L), the world’s largest spirits company, and household goods maker Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L).

A weaker pound against the dollar helps international companies boost their earnings numbers.

Despite swinging between sharp gains and losses this week, the midcaps, whose components earn most of their money domestically, still bagged an eighth successive weekly jump.

London-listed shares of Carnival (CCL.L) climbed 6.8%, topping the blue-chip index after the cruise operator forecast 2020 profit above Wall Street expectations.

Shell (RDSa.L) dipped 1.6%, the biggest drag on the FTSE 100, after expecting to write down up to $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter and lowering its oil products sales forecast.

UAE-based NMC Health (NMC.L), targeted by short seller Muddy Waters, plunged another 15.4% on its worst week ever. Its stock has shed nearly half of its value since Tuesday.

Shares of Just Eat (JE.L) fell 2.1%, a day after Dutch firms Prosus NV (PRX.AS) and Takeaway.com (TKWY.AS) tabled their final offers for the company. The British online food delivery company backs Takeaway’s offer.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Rashmi Aich and Frances Kerry

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