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Europe: FTSE outperforms European peers as Brexit angst sinks sterling


[LONDON] British blue chips outperformed their European peers on Monday as fears about the terms of Brexit sank the pound, giving an accounting boost to stocks with foreign revenues in dollars.

The FTSE 100 lost 0.74 per cent while Germany's DAX fell 1.77 per cent, Paris's CAC 40 0.93 per cent and Milan 1.05 per cent.

European bourses and Wall Street fell heavily due to worries about the technology sector and weak forecasts from suppliers of Apple.

The domestically-focused mid-cap index FTSE MID 250, which is widely seen as a proxy to play expectations of whether leaving the European Union will actually hurt the British economy, was down 1.54 per cent.

"Anything Brexit related", with exposure to the domestic UK market has been hit today due to the weak pound, said Ken Odeluga, market analyst at CityIndex.

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The pound was close to one percent lower against the dollar after Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy came under attack from all sides, putting in doubt her ability to avoid a disruptive EU departure without any deal.

British American Tobacco shares posted the worst performance of the index, falling as much as 10.6 per cent to their lowest since February 2014 after a Wall Street Journal report that the US Food and Drug Administration plans to pursue a ban on menthol cigarettes.

Imperial Brands shares were down 2.1 per cent as traders said BAT has the greatest exposure to menthol cigarettes.

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell were among the few heavyweights adding points to the FTSE, up 0.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, boosted by higher oil prices after top exporter Saudi Arabia announced a supply cut in December.

AstraZeneca added 1.2 per cent after the biggest clinical trial so far to assess a new class of diabetes pills showed that its Farxiga can prevent heart failure and cut the risk of kidney problems in a broad range of patients.

Shares in London-listed Shire rose about 2 per cent after Takeda Pharmaceutical said it would hold an investor vote on its US$62 billion acquisition of the British company and aimed to close the deal on Jan 8, signaling its confidence in securing the required support. 


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