Politics

European stocks, banks gain after Brexit deal defeat while U.K. shares lag

British shares lagged Europe slightly on Wednesday after Prime Minister Theresa May's resounding defeat in a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, but in the face of continuing political uncertainty investors focused on results and M&A news.

Theresa May facing non-confidence vote after deal voted down

A share trader reacts as he reads the headline "Brexit chaos" at the start of the trading session the day after the Brexit deal vote of the British parliament at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 16, 2019. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

British shares lagged Europe slightly on Wednesday after Prime Minister Theresa May's resounding defeat in a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, but in the face of continuing political uncertainty investors focused on results and M&A news.

A defeat had largely been priced in already, though its magnitude came as a surprise.

Analysts and investors interpreted the outcome as a positive for the market, making a "softer, later" Brexit more likely, but uncertainty ahead of a non-confidence vote in May's government on Wednesday evening kept trading muted.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.3 per cent by 0825 GMT while eurozone stocks climbed 0.2 per cent.

The top British index was dragged down by multinational exporter stocks like Unilever and Diageo, which make the lion's share of their earnings in foreign currencies and were bruised by sterling rising.

Bank shares were the biggest boost to European indexes as investors bet that a disruptive no-deal Brexit was less likely after the parliamentary vote.

On the corporate front, results and dealmaking news drove moves with stocks shrugging off the political developments of the night.

Danish freight company DSV climbed 3.7 per cent after it made a bid for Swiss logistics company Panalpina valuing the company at $4.1 billion.

The bid, at 170 Swiss francs per share, represents a 24 per cent premium to Panalpina's closing price on Tuesday, and shares in the Swiss firm jumped 25.8 per cent following it.

Anti-Brexit protesters gathered outside Parliament, as did staunch Brexit supporters, ahead of Tuesday's key vote. The turmoil continues today as Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote of non-confidence. (John Sibley/Reuters)

Pearson shares tumbled 5.2 per cent, the biggest STOXX fallers, after the British education publisher said it expects one-off restructuring costs to rise to around £330 million, ahead of its original £300 million plan.

Reckitt Benckiser shares fell 2.3 per cent after the maker of Durex condoms and Enfamil infant formula said its CEO Rakesh Kapoor would retire by the end of this year.

Norwegian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro rose 4.7 per cent after it said Brazil's northern state of Para lifted a production embargo on its Alunorte alumina refinery.

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