FTSE 100 Drifts Lower As Pound Perks Up


U.K. stocks were moving lower on Monday as the British pound rose after three weeks of losses, helped by a conciliatory tone on Brexit from the Irish foreign minister and strong British retail sales published on Friday.

Prime Minister Theresa May is to hold Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker this week, following a symbolic defeat in Parliament last week.

Investors also looked ahead to the next round of U.S.-China trade talks and pondered over the political fall-out from U.S. President Trump's decision to declare national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was down 20 points or 0.27 percent at 7,216 in opening deals after closing 0.6 percent higher on Friday.

Lloyds Banking Group edged down slightly after it appointed senior Morgan Stanley banker William Chalmers as its new chief financial officer.

Online trading platform Plus500 tumbled 3 percent after it admitted an error in its prior-year results.

JD Sports Fashion rallied 2 percent after it acquired 8.68 million shares in Footasylum Plc.

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser jumped more than 4 percent after its Q4 sales growth topped forecasts.

In economic releases, U.K. housing affordability improved at the fastest pace in eight years in February, but annual house price growth remained weak, survey data from the property market data website Rightmove showed.

U.K.'s annual average wage growth of 3.4 percent outstripped asking prices at the fastest rate since 2011, the survey found.