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Pound rally comes to a halt as US dollar gains ground

The FTSE 100 ended the day almost flat.

Sterling was trading 0.23% down at 1.296 US dollars on Friday (PA)
Sterling was trading 0.23% down at 1.296 US dollars on Friday (PA)

The pound lost ground on Friday – a day after rallying on the back of Brexit rumours – as strong US jobs growth buoyed the dollar.

Sterling was trading 0.23% down at 1.296 US dollars, after new data showed that the US economy added an unexpectedly high number of new jobs in October, as well as strong wage growth.

The pound was flat against the euro at 1.139.

But the currency still held on to most of the gains it made during Thursday’s rally, which was prompted by reports of an imminent Brexit deal for the UK’s financial services.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said it was “encouraging” to see sterling’s resilience.

“The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is still hanging over the currency, but the mood has lightened a little,” he said.

The FTSE 100 closed 20.54 points, or 0.29%, lower at 7,094.12, losing some gains from earlier in the day as the US market opened.

In Europe, the French Cac was 0.32% higher and the German Dax rose 0.44%.

The strong jobs data in the US weighed on Wall Street as it stoked fears of higher borrowing costs, while Apple’s disappointing forecasts further dampened the mood.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced the reimposition of all US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

But President Donald Trump also raised hopes that a full-blown trade war with China will be avoided, leaving oil prices flat amid the mixed bag of news.

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A barrel of Brent crude was trading 0.05% lower at 72.68 US dollars.

In London, Paddy Power Betfair upgraded its full-year profit forecasts as high-rollers from New York splurging 1.5 million US dollars (£1.1 million) a day boosted its performance in the US.

The bookmaker now expects full-year earnings to come in between £465 million and £480 million – up from between £460 million and £480 million – following a surge in betting at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

Shares in the company jumped 125p to 7,035p.

Sage Group announced the appointment of Steve Hare to the role of chief executive with immediate effect.

Mr Hare, formerly the firm’s finance chief, was appointed chief operating officer on an interim basis earlier this year following the departure of boss Stephen Kelly.

His elevation to the top job comes at a difficult time for Sage, which in May axed 30 executives as part of plans to “simplify” the organisation amid a sales slowdown.

Investors welcomed the move, with Sage’s share price climbing 14.6p to close at 564.6p.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels saw its stock slide 19p to 465p after the group blamed Brexit and global trade tensions for contributing to a hefty fall in third-quarter profit.

The company saw pre-tax profit tumble 38.2% to £34 million in the three months to September 30.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smurfit Kappa, up 100p to 2,568p, Standard Chartered up 22p to 579p, Informa up 725p to 23.4p, and Prudential up 48.5p to 1,615.5p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Imperial Brands down 71.5p to 2,618p, Glencore down 8.3p to 320p, British American Tobacco down 75p to 3,342.5p, and GlaxoSmithKline down 32.2p to 1,480p.

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