September 4, 2019 / 7:36 AM / 2 months ago

UK-focussed stocks catch Brexit breather; Hong Kong hopes boost FTSE

(Reuters) - Domestically-focussed British stocks advanced on Wednesday after parliament succeeded in taking steps towards averting a no-deal Brexit, while Asia-facing banks gained on hopes that protests in Hong Kong would end, leading the FTSE 100 higher.

FILE PHOTO: A broker reacts on the IG Index the trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC, which generates half of its income from the UK, climbed 0.8% as sterling also firmed after British lawmakers seized control of the parliamentary agenda to try to block a no-deal divorce from the European Union.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 0.6% with Prudential (PRU.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and HSBC (HSBA.L) up between 1.8% and 3.6% and luxury brand Burberry (BRBY.L) 1.7% higher, after Hong Kong withdrew an extradition bill that had triggered months of protests.

Upbeat sentiment was driven by parliamentary proceedings late on Tuesday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost his working majority and was defeated by lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit, who now hope to pass a bill that will seek to stop the country from leaving the EU on Oct. 31 without transitional arrangements.

Both UK indexes gained despite Johnson demanding a snap election for Oct. 15 and even managed to shrug off the latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data showing that Britain’s Brexit-battered economy ran the risk of sliding into its first recession since the financial crisis.

“Recent developments, while not altogether unexpected, have slightly reopened the second referendum door if a new election sees the Conservatives under-perform,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.

“There’s surely a few more twists and turns to come this week.”

A handful of news-driven moves saw Barratt (BDEV.L), Britain’s biggest housebuilder, slip 3.6% after it warned volume growth would be towards the lower end of its target range in the current year.

Digital services company Kainos (KNOS.L) tumbled 11.7% to the bottom of the FTSE 250 after it flagged caution in public-sector spending in Britain against the backdrop of Brexit.

Dunelm (DNLM.L) handed back its earlier gains and dropped more than 9% as investors took note of the homewares retailer’s cautious outlook over upbeat results.

Among smaller stocks, specialist pension provider Just Group (JUSTJ.L) slumped 8.2% after half-year results, while retailer QUIZ Plc (QUIZ.L) skidded 8.4% after it said the number of shoppers coming into its fast-fashion stores had fallen this year.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer (MKS.L), which has dipped this week ahead of its possible relegation from the FTSE 100, added 3.4%.

(GRAPHIC: FTSE indexes vs European & U.S. peers since UK voted to leave EU - here)

Reporting by Muvija M, Shashwat Awasthi and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Frances Kerry

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