The pound staged one of its most dramatic U-turns on Tuesday after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox dented Theresa May’s hopes of getting her Brexit deal through Parliament on Tuesday evening. Amid hopes of the Prime Minister’s Strasbourg concessions on Monday would be enough to persuade MPs to vote in favour of her deal, the pound had surged more than half a cent to $1.32. However, Cox’s pronouncement at 11:06am that the deal made no meaningful legal change to the previous concessions sent sterling reeling. This afternoon it was down more than half a cent at $1.3078.
The economy staged a surprise bounce back in January in what was seen as a rare piece of good news for the City ahead of Brexit. After a sharp drop in December, gross domestic product grew by 0.5% in January, the biggest monthly gain in more than two years, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. Strength in IT, health services and wholesale trading offset falls in the manufacturing of metals and cars, and construction output. The increase followed weak data across all sectors from surveys such as the Purchasing Managers’ Index and beat City forecasts of 0.2%.
Struggling fashion chain French Connection Group (FCCN) has eked out a small profit as it battles to find new owners. The retailer, which put itself up for sale last year, was back in the black for the first time in seven years. It also said on Tuesday that talks were still “ongoing” with several potential suitors eyeing the business and there was a possibility of sealing a deal in the next few months. The business made £100,000 of profit for the year to January 31, compared with a £2.1 million loss the year before. Revenues edged up 0.2% to £135.3 million but its same-store sales fell 6.8%. Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has a 26% stake in the business alongside founder Stephen Marks, who is also chairman and chief executive, and owns almost 40% of it.