Pound swings as Brexit talks go down to the wire

5) A rare disease drugs firm co-founded by the discoverer of Viagra has raised $56m (£44m) to use artificial intelligence for finding new medicines. Healx uses AI to examine potential beneficial side effects of existing treatments which could also treat rare ailments. 

What happened overnight

Asian shares inched higher while sterling came off five-month highs in volatile trade on Wednesday as investors looked to whether Britain can secure a deal to avoid a disorderly exit from the European Union.

Officials and diplomats involved in negotiations said that differences over the terms of the split had narrowed significantly.

The news lit a fire under European and US equities, which jumped about 1% on Tuesday. The pound rocketed to $1.28, a level not seen since May 21.

The pound has strengthened nearly 5pc over the past week as investors rushed to reprice the prospect of a last-minute Brexit deal before the end-October deadline.

Still, the pound lost steam in Asia, falling 0.3pc to $1.2752, as uncertainties remained on whether a deal will be sealed at a make-or-break EU summit on Thursday and Friday and if Boris Johnson can get it through parliament.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4pc while Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.5pc, hitting 10-month highs.

Australian shares added 0.9% while South Korea’s KOSPI index climbed 0.6pc, maintaining gains after South Korea’s central bank cut its policy interest rate for the second time in three months, matching a record low to address mounting deflationary pressures.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended the morning 2.02 points up at 26,505.95.

Coming up today

Asos has had a poor year, with shares nearly 60pc below where they stood this week in 2018. The severe markdown was brought about by a pair of profit warnings, which the company pinned on issues including investments, competition, stock problems, economic worries and operational issues. That’s a fairly comprehensive list, so analysts will likely just focus on the broad strokes in its full-year results today; how sales are faring, and how the margins look. 

Interim results: Rio Tinto

Preliminary results: Nanoco

Full-year results: Asos

Trading statement: Arbuthnot Banking Group, Mediclinic, Secure Trust Bank, Segro

Economics Inflation: (UK and EU) 

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