March 14, 2019 / 9:16 AM / 6 days ago

London's main index up as no-deal Brexit 'off the table'

(Reuters) - UK shares bagged another session of gains as financials cheered British lawmakers’ rejection of a disruptive no-deal Brexit and oil majors rose on higher crude prices, but mid-cap retirement services specialist Just Group slumped on plans to raise funds.

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

The FTSE 100 was 0.4 percent higher, marking its fourth consecutive session of rises and placing it on course for weekly gain after ending three weeks in the red.

The domestically-focussed FTSE 250, more exposed to outcomes of Brexit proceedings, rose 0.6 percent.

Wednesday’s parliamentary vote paved the way for another one on Thursday that could delay Britain’s exit from the European Union until at least the end of June.

But a vote in favour of postponing the leaving date still does not guarantee that Brexit will be delayed, as it would require unanimous approval from EU members, while the European Commission has stressed that there would need to be a good reason to justify a delay.

That did not stop financials from leading the charge on the main index with Lloyds and state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland adding 2 percent.

“The good news is that no-deal is off the table. The bad news is there isn’t a table,” said Raymond James analyst Chris Bailey.

“A bit more time is typically good but ultimately credibility will wither as we cannot kick the can down the road forever. But in this game of poker I guess it is all about forcing people to bend their views a bit more.”

A rating upgrade by Morgan Stanley pushed the London-listed shares of travel group TUI by 4 percent, while Anglo American and building materials group CRH fell 3.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, as they traded ex-dividend.

On the midcaps, landscaping products supplier Marshalls shot up by 7.1 percent to a record high as results showed it managed to increase profits despite Brexit uncertainties.

Cineworld added 4 percent as its results benefited from a string of blockbuster releases last year including action movies “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

The cinema operator touched a five-month high as it also hiked the cost savings target from its Regal Entertainment takeover, trumpeting the success of the integration.

Dragging on the index was Just Group that slipped 12.2 percent on its worst day in almost three years after announcing plans for a share placement and debt offering due to changes in capital requirement rules.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson summed up that the UK markets have been held back by the Brexit process and anything that extends the decision would probably be the worst possible option because ultimately it would drag the uncertainty further out.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra

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