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Sterling falls over future UK-EU trade relation concerns

By Philip Smith

Oil rises as tensions force Libya to cut production

The pound fell against both the euro and dollar after UK chancellor (finance minister) Sajid Javid said Britain would not commit to sticking to EU rules in post-Brexit trade talks. His comments were seen as an indication there would be weak ties between the two following the UK’s departure from the EU next week.

Against the euro, sterling was trading down 0.05 per cent and against the dollar, 0.09 per cent.

Oil prices rose to their highest in more than a week, before falling slightly back, after two large crude production bases in southwest Libya began shutting down after forces loyal to the Libyan National Army closed a pipeline. The two fields were producing 1.2m barrels a day (bpd) and at least 800.000 bpd of that has been lost as a result. At 5pm GMT a barrel of Brent crude was trading at $64.60 up 0.29 per cent.

The stockmarkets almost held their collective breaths as they awaited news from central bank meetings, figures on earnings, business activity data and for deliverances from the annual meeting of the global movers and shakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Almost, but not quite. In the Far East the Nikkei closed up 0.18 per cent and the Shanghai Composite up 0.66 per cent. In Europe the FTSE closed down 0.3 per cent at 7651 and the French CAC up 1.02 per cent. Germany’s DAX held steady nosing up 0.17 per cent. US markets were closed for Martin Luther King Day.

The cryptocurrencies had a hard time after Bitcoin dropped a staggering six per cent yesterday in a matter of minutes. At 5pm GMT Bitcoin was down 0.557 per cent against the dollar. Where Bitcoin leads, others follow: Ethereum was down 0.45 per cent. But it wasn't entirely a sea of red across the board for the major cryptos: Litecoin was up 0.139 per cent as was Bitcoin cash.

Gold was slightly up 0.56 per cent at $1,560.10 an ounce, despite concerns it is heading for a crash.

FURTHER READING: More downside expected: gold price technical analysis

FURTHER READING: Bitcoin plunges 6 per cent in minutes

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