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FTSE 100 at six-month high as Brexit-wounded pound lifts exporters

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

By Muvija M and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) - London's main index surged to its highest in nearly six months as exporter stocks benefited from a weakening pound on rising fears of a no-deal exit as parliament rejected all Brexit alternatives again.

The FTSE 100 bagged its fourth session of gains on Tuesday with a 1 percent leap, outshining its counterparts in Europe and on Wall Street.

The midcaps, whose members derive about half of their revenues from the UK, closed 0.5 percent higher, in a rare break from moving in tandem with sterling and another sign that Brexit uncertainty is upending conventional trading strategies.

The European Union warned that Britain could be heading for a potentially disorderly exit in 10 days time as Prime Minister Theresa May met with ministers to figure out ways to break the deadlock over terms of the departure.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said both sterling and the midcaps seemed to be holding off until after a five-hour cabinet meeting today.

"On one hand, the lack of majority for any one option is shocking and a major blow as we are running out of time, on the other hand you could see it as nothing has changed," he said.

The pound's dip on Tuesday lifted the more internationally exposed components on the FTSE 100. HSBC, Prudential, British American Tobacco, pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline all advanced.

Shell and BP also lent support as oil prices hit their highest this year on the prospect that more sanctions against Iran and further Venezuelan disruptions could deepen an OPEC-led supply cut.

Swimming against the tide was Rolls-Royce with an 1.1 percent drop on news that Singapore Airlines had grounded two Boeing 787-10 jets fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engines after checks found premature blade deterioration.


TURNING A CORNER

Industrials were among the biggest support to the FTSE 250.

"Overall, the atmosphere across equity markets is positive, mainly on those hopes that global manufacturing is turning a corner," said Chris Beauchamp, an analyst at Raymond James.

On news-driven moves, Wizz Air jumped 5 percent on its best day since November after saying annual profit would be in the upper half of its previous range on "robust" demand.

Wizz Air's update offered some respite to a sector that was pummelled after larger rival easyJet on Monday warned of weakening demand and softer ticket pricing.

British Airways-owner IAG and easyJet gained after steep losses in the previous session.

Fashion group Superdry underperformed with a 9 percent slump on its worst day this year after its shareholders voted to bring back its co-founder Julian Dunkerton to the board. A trader said his return could bring "conflict" in the board room.


(Reporting by Muvija M and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru,; Editing by Keith Weir and Ed Osmond)