The UK departs Coronavirus BoE

The long goodbye

And here is Brexit day. Although historically the bigger moment, investors seem far calmer than during the lead up to the December election, probably because now the course has been set and at least the departure from Europe is a certainty, if not much else.

The FTSE lost some ground this morning with an eclectic mix of companies trading lower, led by Hargreaves Lansdown. The financial services firm reported a below-expectations increase in new business, and was further hit by having to waive £2.3m in fees after the collapse of Neil Woodford investment funds last year.

Airlines, hotel stocks catch breath

Buffeted for days by news of the spreading coronavirus, hotel operator and airline shares are catching breath this morning as Chinese authorities seem to have got to grips with at least slowing down the spread of the virus. The worst affected cities have been on lockdown for a week and even the unaffected cities have extended the Spring Festival closures until the end of this week. But Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets plan to reopen on Monday, as do most of the commodity exchanges in the country. 

BoE’s comments lift pound

Sterling traders are still in an upbeat mood following the Bank of England’s meeting yesterday, encouraged by comments that “near-term uncertainties facing businesses and households have receded”. The pound is back above $1.31 this morning, the highest level in a week.    

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