Britain has offered to pay much of what the EU was demanding to settle a Brexit “divorce bill”, bringing the two sides close to agreement on a key obstacle to opening talks on a future free trade pact, EU sources said on Tuesday.
Sterling surged to a two-month high against the dollar, helping send shares in big internationally-exposed, dollar earning FTSE companies such as British American Tobacco (BATS.L), Diageo (DGE.L) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) down more than 1 percent.
“Following last night’s jump, (the pound) continued its rise today on hopes of a significant Brexit breakthrough. Shorts are coming out as the squeeze comes on but will the rally last? It’s down to the politics again, with various risks to the bullish case still unresolved,” said ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson
“Nevertheless it may be time to turn cautiously optimistic on sterling,” he said.
In turn the more domestically exposed FTSE Mid 250 index .FTMC, which benefits from a stronger pound, rose 0.3 percent. The British mid cap index generates only half of its sales outside the UK, against two thirds for the FTSE.
UK mid-cap Cineworld (CINE.L) however fell 13.8 percent after news that cinema chain is in talks to acquire U.S. peer Regal Entertainment (RGC.N) for about $3.6 billion in cash.
Cineworld said it would finance its bid through a mix of debt and a “material” rights issue.
Among the biggest movers on the STOXX 600 was Britvic (BVIC.L), up 4.6 percent to an all time high, following results.
Osram Licht (OSRn.DE) rose 4.3 percent after Barclays upgraded the stock to “overweight” from “equal weight”, citing strong growth expectations for its Opto Semiconductors unit.
Elsewhere, among chipmakers Dialog Semiconductors (DLGS.DE) and Infineon (IFXGn.DE) fell slightly, shrugging off a positive earnings update from U.S. peer Marvell Technology (MRVL.O).
The sector was hit earlier this week after Morgan Stanley downgraded Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) on worries the memory chip boom could peak soon.
A top faller was Sonova (SOON.S), down 2.8 percent, hit by a Morgan Stanley downgrade to underweight.
Broader market sentiment was also lifted by signs of progress on U.S. tax cuts, which offset caution following another missile test by North Korea.
In spite of Wednesday’s bounce, the STOXX 600 is set to end November with a loss, having fallen around 2 percent so far this month as investors have been taking profits and earnings growth slowed compared to the previous two quarters.
According to the latest Thomson Reuters report, third quarter earnings for the index are expected to increase 1.7 percent from a year earlier. Excluding the energy sector, earnings are expected to decrease 2.2 percent.
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