FTSE 100 falls despite hopes Boris Johnson may get his Brexit deal as focus moves to dwindling hopes of a Covid-19 bailout in Donald Trump's America

JIM ARMITAGE
·3 min read
Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a new package of support for companies hit by tier 2 coronavirus measures: REUTERS
Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a new package of support for companies hit by tier 2 coronavirus measures: REUTERS

The FTSE 100 was set to fall today despite rising hopes for a post Brexit trade deal that pushed sterling to its biggest rally since March.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier's comments that a trade deal was "within reach", coupled with a deputy governor of the Bank of England's view that negative interest rates weren't needed boosted the pound yesterday. It leaped to more than $1.31 for the first time since early last month.

A strong pound is not necessarily good for share prices as it can dent exports, but progress on limiting the damage of Brexit should have benefited the FTSE.

These days, however, the pandemic takes precedence over all, and particularly its impact on the world's biggest economy.

There, the news has not been good.

Overnight, it became ever clearer that a deal between Republicans and Democrats on a US Covid relief package looks miles away from happening soon. It emerged that the Republicans in the Senate are only looking to spend $500 billion, as opposed to the Democrat plan of $2.1 trillion and President Trump's offer of $1.9 trillion.

If the deal can't be reached before next month's election, it could be delayed for months.

A Joe Biden victory would mean waiting until he is sworn in in January, while a Trump victory would still probably not change what CMC Markets calls "the mathematics" of the Senate which is stacked against a bailout deal.

Asian stocks fell sharply this morning on the shrinking likelihood of this stimulus package getting through.

The FTSE 100 was expected to follow through with a fall of 28 points to 5748, with the Dax in Germany down 83 at 12,474 and France's CAC40 42 lower at 4812.

Much will depend on the oil price, which hammered heavyweights BP and Shell yesterday, making it hard for the FTSE to make any progress.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunaq is due to make an economic statement later today having scrapped Boris Johnson's three-year spending plan yesterday in favour of a one-year option.

The decision seemed pragmatic under the chaotic circumstances of coronavirus, but many commentators today were concerned that it left Britain yet again looking like it has little in the way of long term planning - a serious worry as Brexit looms and the country's credit rating falls.

News on a much needed investment in infrastructure to boost the country's sickly productivity would be welcomed from Sunak, although much of his speech is likely to be focused on coronavirus support packages. The mishandling of local fiscal help to regions going into Tier 3 lockdowns mean he has to look authoritative on the issue.

The CBI's industrial trends figures out later today will give the latest view on October's business optimism, orders and selling prices.

Some of the data will have been collected before northern respondents went into the tougher lockdown conditions but the survey is still likely to make for grim reading.

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