Pound Rises on Hopes of Brexit Progress

Pound Rises on Hopes of Brexit Progress
The value of the pound continued to climb on Thursday as hopes rose of progress in the Brexit negotiations. Sterling hit a two-month dollar high on Wednesday on reports the UK had offered to pay up to €50bn to settle its EU “divorce bill”.

The Times also reported on Thursday that the UK was close to a deal concerning the border with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The pound was up more than half a cent against the dollar at $1.3467. Against the euro, sterling also rose 0.4% to €1.1363. On the stock market, the benchmark FTSE 100 share index was down 25.06 points at 7,368.50.

Shares in Aviva rose 2.6% after the insurer increased its targets for growth and dividend payouts.

Outside the FTSE 100, shares in the owner of the Daily Mail newspaper – Daily Mail and General Trust – plunged by a quarter after the publisher reported a full-year loss and gave a downbeat outlook for next year.

The company reported a loss of £112m after writing down the value of some of its businesses by more than £200m, and added that expected earnings in the short-term to be “adversely affected by recent disposals and challenging conditions in some of our sectors”.

Pub operator Marston’s saw its shares jump nearly 10% after it reported a rise in full-year profits and said it was “well positioned” for growth next year.

But results from rival Greene King fell flat by contrast. Its shares dropped 2.8% after the brewer and pub owner reported an 8% fall in half-year profits and said trading conditions were likely to “toughen” in the next few years.