Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.
The pound continued to rise on Thursday with Britain and the EU within touching distance of an historic post-Brexit trade deal.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson was due to hold a final call with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday to finalise the deal. He is reported to be planning to confirm the free-trade agreement in a speech from 10 Downing Street.
Negotiations went on into the early hours of the morning in Brussels overnight, with officials continuing to thrash out the final details and draft of the UK’s divorce.
WATCH: Johnson Makes Last-Ditch Brexit Push
Travel stocks among FTSE gainers
Travel stocks on London’s FTSE (^FTSE) have made a dramatic comeback after plummeting earlier this week as a new UK virus strain dented hopes of the industry opening up further.
Despite Wednesday’s COVID-19 news forcing parts of the nation into stricter Tier 4 restrictions and travel curbs worldwide for the UK, reports of a Brexit deal materialising as early as Thursday sent stocks higher.
Banking stocks were also among the biggest gainers on the FTSE (^FTSE) on Thursday, swept up in the Brexit deal optimism.
Despite the immediate Brexit optimism, some underlying concerns loom large for firms, particularly the economic fallout of COVID-19 and a new strain that has forced tighter lockdowns and hit UK stocks earlier this week.
The fate of banks, alongside housebuilders and other so-called cyclical stocks, are typically closely linked to the fortunes of the wider domestic economy as a whole.
“If this deal is done (and it won’t be the end of Brexit completely) then a lot of the cloud that hangs over the UK economy is removed – and banks like Lloyds and housebuilders stand to benefit from a more positive outlook on the UK economy,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.
UK and European stocks headed higher on Thursday, as investors’ hopes grew of a Brexit trade deal being announced within hours.
Asian markets were mixed at market close. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) gained 0.5% at market close, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was up 0.2%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was down 0.6%. South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) headed up 1.7%.
WATCH: Empty Grocery Shelves, Miles of Trucks as France Closes Border to U.K.
-With additional reporting by Tom Belger