• FTSE 100 closes nealy four points lower

  • EU yet to set a new Brexit deadline but agrees to extension

  • S&P 500 on track for all time highest close

5.05pm: FTSE 100 closes in red – just

FTSE 100 closed Friday marginally in the red but off earlier lows, while European indices rose and US shares also gained ground.

The Footsie closed the day  down 3.78 points at 7,324.47. But over the week as a whole, the UK’s  top share index went higher, adding around 2.4%.

Midcap cousin FTSE 250 also floundered on Friday, losing 48.64 points at 20,103.51.

It comes as the Brexit saga continues. The EU says it will grant the UK an extension to agree a deal but has not set a date. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour, the main opposition party, has said he will only decide to agree to a general election on seeing what the EU’s extension is.

There is talk of a delay until early 2020, but reportedly the French government have said they want a shorter timeline.

Top laggard on Footsie was Hargreaves Lansdown PLC (LON:HL.) whose shares shed 3.24% to stand at 1,733.50p.

“The UK and EU are now engaged in a delicate game of pass-the-parcel, as both sides wait for the other to decide on their next move,” noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at spreadbetter IG Index

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 202 points at 27,008, while the Broader S&P 500 is on track for an all-time closing high, up over 15 at 3,026.19. To date, its highest close is  3,025.86 set on July 26, this year.

2.40pm: FTSE 100 down 41 points

The EU has agreed to an extension of the Brexit deadline although it has yet to decide on what the new deadline will be.

The decision, widely expected, had minimal effect on the Footsie, which picked up a little at 7,288, down 41 points on the day (0.6%).

A European Commission spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, said: “What I can tell you is that the EU 27 have agreed to the principle of an extension and work will now continue in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, US markets have opened mixed, with the Dow Jones up 68 points (0.3%) at 26,874 and the S&P 500 6 points (0.2%) lower at 3,004.

1.20pm: Waiting game continues

The Footsie has largely moved sideways over the lunchtime trading session, as traders await the Brexit extension verdict from Brexit.

London’s index of heavyweight shares was down 39 points (0.5%) at 7,289.

“US stocks are poised for a mixed open as opposite earnings results from Amazon and Intel saw Nasdaq futures go through a tug-of-war,” said Edward Moya.

“With markets focused on next week’s Fed decision and next month’s critical trade war update at the APEC summit in Chile, we could see some range trading over the next few trading sessions,” he added.

Sentiment towards the global giants that comprise much of the Footsie has at least been bolstered by the weakness of sterling (GBP), down a third of a cent at US$1.218.

“GBP gains have stalled and we look for limited sterling upside from here. This is due to the uncertainty about Brexit and the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and secondly because of the prospects of an early election. Modestly overvalued GBP can reverse towards EUR/GBP 0.8800,” suggested ING Economics.

Switching to corporate news, tiddler Nuformix Plc (LON:NFX), the pharmaceutical development company using cocrystal technology to unlock the therapeutic potential of approved small molecule drugs, confirmed it is in discussions with multiple potential licensees in Japan and Asia, including but not limited to its NXP002 programme.

The shares shot up 56% to 12.85p on the news.

VR Education Holdings PLC (LON:VRE) rose by a quarter after the virtual reality (VR) technology company said its ENGAGE platform has been selected by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) for the Oculus Independent Software Vendors programme.

11.30am: European markets softer as US-Sino trade war rhetoric heats up

The Footsie continued its gentle decline in late morning trade, in line with European markets after further shots were fired in the US-Sino trade war.

The UK’s index of blue-chip stocks was down 28 points at 7,300, just four points above its intra-day high.

“Trade war sentiment has taken a turn for the worst, with Mike Pence coming out to criticise the Chinese as an aggressive and destabilising force. What began as an issue for Hong Kong’s right for democracy and self-determination has now spilt into the wider corporate picture, with both the NBA [National Basketball Association] and Nike coming in for criticism over their censorship in the bid to maintain Chinese funding. For markets this is simply another issue that could complicate or derail trade talks, with the Chinese largely combative when pressed by foreign powers on the Hong Kong issue,” said Josh Mahony at IG.

In an otherwise solid mining sector, Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) was 0.7% lower at 230.75p after its third-quarter production report disappointed.

Chemical formulations outfit Synthomer PLC (LON:SYNT) was taken to the cleaners by disgruntled shareholders after it issued a profit warning.

The company, which earlier this week knocked back concerns expressed by some shareholders that its chairman Neil Johnson is “overboarded”, saw its shares lose 11% of their value at 277p.

9.45am: WPP and Barclays can’t prevent a retreat

Despite two big Footsie companies pulling things out of the bag with their trading updates today, the leading shares index has sunk into the red.

The FTSE 100 was down 20 points (0.3%) at 7,308, even with the support of firmer mining stocks.

Marketing giant WPP PLC (LON:WPP) continued its emergence from the doghouse with a well-received third-quarter update.

“The turnaround at the advertising giant WPP appears to be gaining some traction. Once you strip out the Kantar market research business, in which shareholders approved the sale of a majority stake yesterday, like-for-like sales were up 1.9% in the third quarter,” noted AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.

WPP shares were the best blue-chip performers, up 6.3%.

Nine-months results from Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) were a mixed bag but the contents were deemed by the market to be mostly positive, as reflected by the 2.1% increase in the shares to 169.96p.

“It’s just one quarter, but this is exactly the picture CEO Jes Staley wants to paint – even if the final round of PPI compensation is muddying the water. A resilient UK bank is cutting costs and keeping bad loans to a minimum, generating a reliable income stream. Meanwhile, the corporate and investment bank is putting the icing on the cake with lower capital intensity fee income and increasing corporate loans. The combination is generating a healthy return on shareholders’ capital,” said Nicholas Hyett, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Unfortunately Barclays could be approaching a ‘steady-state’ just as conditions turn. The bank’s stuck to its existing targets on profitability this time out, but warned they’re becoming increasingly ambitious given the economic backdrop,” he added.

8.30am: FTSE 100 in a holding pattern 

The FTSE 100 was barely changed at 7,327.43 with traders keeping their powder dry until the EU decides whether to grant a Brexit extension (which seems likely). The unknown is just how long the delay will be.

Providing a politically turbulent backdrop to proceedings here in the UK, Boris Johnson is pushing for a December 12 general election as the Prime Minister’s cat and mouse with the ‘remainer’ and dissident factions of the Commons continues.

“Boris is bullish, but the Labour Party don’t seem that keen to go head to head with the Tories, presumably because they are performing poorly in the polls,” said David Madden analyst at CMC Markets.

“The SNP might not be too eager to support a general election either as the recent Progress Scotland survey pointed to a minority of Scots supporting independence.”

Leading the index of blue-chips was WPP (LON:WPP) with a 5% spike to its value. The marketing and advertising giant Friday signalled it had returned to the growth trail.

A quarterly trading update from Barclays’ (LON:BARC), up 1.9%, revealed a revival in the fortunes of the investment banking arm of the business.

6.40am: FTSE 100 set to open little changed 

UK stocks were expected to open little changed as traders wait for Brussels to determine whether to grant the UK an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Spread betting quotes indicated the FTSE 100 would open 5 points higher at 7,333 after the top-shares index added 68 points yesterday.

Sterling, which had dipped below US$1.28 after UK prime minister, Boris Johnson said he would seek to hold a General Election on 12 December, subsequently recovered and is more or less holding its own this morning.

“Johnson wants to clear house plus consolidate power, but he needs two-thirds of MPs to support in order to pursue his plan. Boris is bullish, but the Labour Party don’t seem that keen to go head to head with the Tories, presumably because they are performing poorly in the polls. The SNP might not be too eager to support a general election either as the recent Progress Scotland survey pointed to a minority of Scots supporting independence,” said David Madden at CMC Markets.

“There were further developments in the US-China trade dispute. Beijing offered to buy US$20 billion worth of US agricultural goods in year one if the Trump administration agrees on a partial trade deal. Mike Pence, the US vice president, took a reasonably firm line with China in his speech yesterday,” Madden added.

“The US politician criticised Beijing’s handling of the situation in Hong Kong, but he also made it clear that if China ends it ‘unfair’ trade policies, the US will be ready for a new trading relationship. Mr Pence is known to be a hawk in relation to China, but the update wasn’t too tough,” Madden said.

The S&P 500 rose 6 points yesterday to close at 3,010 but the Dow Jones average eased 28 points to 26,806.

In Asia this morning, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 15 points to the good at 22,766 but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 135 points at 26,663.

Closer to home, the big corporate announcements scheduled this day come from marketing giant WPP PLC (LON:WPP), banking leviathan Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) and insurer Hastings Group Holdings PLC (LON:HSTG).

When we last heard from WPP, it was crowing over the poaching of Argos boss John Rogers to spearhead its new growth strategy as its new finance chief.

WPP has had a tough time in recent years, with shares sliding 50% between 2017 to 2019, and the first half of this year saw its profits drop by 44%.

Friday’s third-quarter trading update is expected to see organic revenue growth worsen, according to Deutsche Bank, which is forecasting a fall of 1.7% for the full year.

Meanwhile, Barclays will follow RBS in reporting its third-quarter update this week ahead of more banks next week.

Boss Jes Staley has seen off activist investor Edward Bramson but eyes will be on whether the performance of the investment banking arm can build on its strong second quarter.

As with its rivals, investors may also be keeping track of the impact of PPI claims on the bank’s figures.

Significant announcements expected Friday:

Trading statement: Barclays PLC (LON:BARC), Essentra Plc (LON:ESNT), Hastings Group Holdings PLC (LON:HSTG), WPP PLC (LON:WPP)

AGMs: Trafalgar Property Group PLC (LON:TRAF)

Economic announcements: German IFO survey, US Michigan consumer sentiment

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.2841, down 0.1 cents
  • 10-year gilt: yielding 0.627%, down 5.91 basis points
  • Gold: US$1,505.40 an ounce, up 70 cents
  • Brent crude: US$55.86 a barrel, down 37 cents
  • Bitcoin: US$7,434, down US$30

City headlines:

Financial Times

Prime minister Boris Johnson has conceded defeat on his promise to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October and is pushing for a General Election on `12 December

“Bugs” in its ad-targeting system are set to erase tens of millions of dollars from Twitter’s revenues this year.

Stricter regulations have done for CashEuroNet UK; the biggest remaining payday lender in the UK is set to close down this year

Nokia’s shares plunged after the technology firm binned its dividend and cut its earnings forecasts for this year and next

The Daily Telegraph

Woodford Patient Capital Trust faces a backlash after appointing blue-blooded fund firm Schroders as its new manager on fees of £3.5 million a year.

Britain is an increasingly attractive place to do business, with few regulatory delays and relatively little red tape, according to the World Bank.

Three construction firms – Northern Ireland-based FP McCann, Derbyshire-based Stanton Bonna Concrete and Somerset-based CPM Group – have been fined more than £36 million by the competition watchdog for price-fixing.

The Times

Amazon lost nearly $70 billion of its market value last night after it disappointed Wall Street’s forecast for its fourth-quarter sales guidance and its cloud computing business showed further signs of slowing.

Tesla shares climbed 17.7% yesterday as investors welcomed the company reporting its fifth quarterly profit in its 16-year history, causing havoc for short-sellers.

Sky lost nearly 100,000 customers in the third quarter and said it suffered from a ban on gambling advertisements during televised sports matches.

The Guardian

Royal Bank of Scotland has registered a quarterly loss after being forced to put aside an extra £900 million to cover a surge in payment protection insurance complaints before the claims deadline.

The European Commission has approved the UK’s flagship energy scheme, which was ruled illegal last year, clearing the way for almost £1 billion in backup power subsidies this winter to the UK’s largest fossil fuel generators.

Regis UK has become the latest high street casualty, with its failure putting another 1,200 jobs at risk following the loss of 85,000 retail jobs in the past year.

Daily Mail

AJ Bell has pulled in 34,154 customers over the last year as it steps up its battle with Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hermes has been buoyed by soaring demand in China while weathering the turmoil in Hong Kong.

AstraZeneca has increased its sales forecasts for the second time this year amid booming demand for its new medicines.