With London’s stock market closed for the night, it’s time to wrap up.
Here’s our latest news story on the Brexit talks:
And do watch the website for further developments tonight.
The pound is still holding steady at $1.35 tonight, as traders wait for hard news on the Brexit trade deal talks.
European stock markets also posted strong gains tonight, as the prospect of a Brexit deal lifted spirits.
Germany’s DAX jumped 1.25%, Italy’s FTSE MIB gained 1.3%, France’s CAC rose 1.1% and the Spanish IBEX rallied by 1.7%.
David Madden of CMC Markets says:
Increased chatter than the UK and the EU will reach a trade deal has boosted sentiment. Equity markets were already up on the session in advance of the optimism surrounding the trade talks, so then the bullish move was turned up a notch.
The Covid-19 crisis is still very much in the news but for now traders are fixated on the UK-EU situation. On the London market, banks, housebuilders, airlines and transport stocks are showing decent gains. The FTSE is seeing its gains capped by the rise in the pound – which has pushed internationally focused stocks like Reckitt Benckiser, AstraZeneca and Diageo into the red.
The smaller FTSE 250 index, which has a stronger domestic focus, rallied more strongly.
It jumped 1.7% to 20297 points, close to the near-10 month high set last week.
Top risers included Virgin Money (+8.4%), budget airline easyJet (+7.3%) and property group Hammerson (+7.3%). Oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy leapt 22%, after being awarded over $1.2bn in a long-running corporate tax dispute with the Indian government.
FTSE 100 closes higher
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index has closed higher tonight, as reports that a Brexit deal is imminent lift stocks across Europe.
Domestic stocks led the rally in London, with Lloyds Banking Group finishing 7% higher, fellow bank NatWest up 5%, airline group IAG up 6.2%, retailer JD Sports up 4.5%, and housebuilders Persimmon, Berkeley Group and Barratt Development all up over 4%.
Energy stocks also rallied, as the oil price also pushed higher after dipping overnight.
This lifted the Footsie up by 42 points to nearly 6496 points, up 0.66%, with some multinational companies dipping due to the strength of the pound.
Tony Connelly of Ireland’s RTE broadcaster has also heard that optimism over a UK-EU trade deal is rising:
The pound is holding onto those earlier gains - still up over one and a half cents against the US dollar at $1.352, and over one eurocent at €1.109.
Full story: EU countries prepare for possible imminent Brexit deal
Our Brussels bureau chief Daniel Boffey reports that it seems the UK and EU are on the pathway to a deal tonight.
EU states are readying themselves for the possibility of a Brexit deal being struck within the next few hours, by pencilling in a Christmas Eve meeting to start the ratification process.
Ambassadors in Brussels have been told to be available to meet on Thursday if the negotiations come to fruition. Diplomats representing the EU member states are already combing through some of the the 2,000 pages of legal text that have been agreed.
A vote by the European parliament to give consent to a trade and security agreement with the UK is no longer possible, given the lack of time left before the end of the transition period. The UK exits the single market and customs union in eight days’ time.
The capitals will instead have to agree to “provisional application” of the deal on 1 January, with MEPs having their vote later in the month. The process can still take up to a week, given the need for the treaty to be translated and scrutinised by the 27 governments.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg cautions that the deal isn’t finalised yet, but it could be heading that way tonight...
Here’s Sky News’s Joe Pike:
This latest burst of Brexit deal optimism is also lifting shares in UK companies.
Lloyds Banking Group is now the top risers on the FTSE 100, up 7%, with NatWest Group up 5%,
IAG, the parent company of British Airways, are up almost 6% now.
Housebuilders, who are another bellwether of UK economic prospects, are also rising - with Persimmon and Barratt Development both up 4% today.
This has lifted the FTSE 100 index up by 27 points or 0.4% -- with multinationals dipping due to the jump in the pound (it makes their overseas earnings less valuable in sterling terms)
The smaller, domestically-focused FTSE 250 index has jumped 1.6%, with budget airline easyJet up 8%.