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  • Initially supported by positive data out of China which helped to underpin risk sentiment, the pound took over the market’s attention, helping to support the top flight FTSE 100 index.  
  • The index was sent to the highest level since 10th October 2018. However, the  index ended higher by just over six points to close at 7,197.01 on mixed price action in cable.  

US data was a weight on the greenback, with retail sales coming in as a great disappointment on the same day that Brexit came back to the fore. The index was mixed on the corporate side as well, with promising results from the likes of Micro Focus and AstraZeneca were balanced by menacing oil producers and as well as the miners.  

On the Brexit front, rumours were circulating around today’s Brexit debate that was rounded off with some amendments that had been tabled and voted upon. The most significant was the Government’s motion where a defeat would be a critical blow to PM May as she runs down the clock to the eleventh hour. The government motion was to reaffirm support for PM May’s plan as follows:

“That this House welcomes the prime minister’s statement of 12 February 2019; reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU expressed by this house on 29 January 2019 and notes that discussions between the UK and the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop are ongoing.”

On rumours that it would not pass, and thus make the likelihood of a no deal Brexit more apparent, cable fell 0.4% to 1.2772, its lowest level in over a month. Indeed, UK lawmakers won 303 to 258 on the vote. The problem PM May now faces in losing this Commons majority means that EU leaders may feel even less inclined to offer her Brexit concessions.  

From the US session, trade negotiations between the US and China were a theme, and to be expected, there are bumps in the road which could throw risk sentiment over the edge if not resolved promptly.  

In a Bloomberg article,  US and China “have made little progress so far” during talks in Beijing. Regulation standards, (corporate governance), and structural reforms are an issue –  “an extremely sensitive issue that is seen as a non-starter for Chinese leaders,”  the Bloomberg story argued, adding,  “The hurdles raise questions about whether negotiators can meet Trump’s criteria for pushing back the March 1 deadline for more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods”  – That is Aussie dollar negative and potentially U.S. dollar bullish.  

Best and worst performers

On the corporate front, rallying ahead of the pack due to the software company’s full-year revenue beat analysts’ expectations was Micro Focus International (MCRO) 1,712.00p 12.82% followed by AstraZeneca (AZN) 6,149.00p 7.48% and Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,766.00p 2.14%. The worst performers were, Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,483.00p -7.83% followed by Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 2,354.00p -2.89% and then retailer Next (NXT) 4,826.00p -2.68%.

FTSE levels

Technically, the index has extended in four days of consecutive gains, moving up from the 23.6% fibo of the 27th Dec rally and is now testing the 50% Fibo of the May 2018 decline as 7220. The index has also broken the daily doji and fractal highs of 7187 which switches the technical picture more positive. However, the index needs to break above this resistance level with commitments from the bulls for a sustained uptrend, or face, at least, a mean reversion towards 50% of the 29th Jan rally to 6979 which exposes risk towards the 50% Fibo of trend low to recent highs located at 6860 and confluence of the fractal low on 26th Oct 2018.