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London stocks track Asia gains ahead of Brexit talks

Credit: REUTERS/PETER NICHOLLS

London stocks tracked gains in Asian markets on Monday as investors hoped for a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year, although concerns over tougher business restrictions in the UK kept demand for risky assets in check.

By Devik Jain

Oct 19 (Reuters) - London stocks tracked gains in Asian markets on Monday as investors hoped for a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year, although concerns over tougher business restrictions in the UK kept demand for risky assets in check.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 0.2%, led by autos .FTNMX3350, insurance .FTNMX8570, and real estate .FTUB8600 stocks.

A 0.6% gain for AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L propped up the pharmaceuticals index .FTNMX4570 as the European medicines watchdog recommended approving its treatments for a form of heart failure and a lung disorder.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC added 0.3%, with shares in flexible office space provider IWG Plc IWG.L jumping 7.6% after Berenberg upgraded the stock to "buy".

"Risk assets are precariously perched with no shortage of uncertainty clouding the background," said Stephen Innes, market strategist at Axi.

The FTSE 100 and the mid-cap index recorded their first weekly declines in three weeks on Friday as new coronavirus-induced lockdowns in London as well as uncertainty about a post-Brexit trade deal sapped demand for equities.

Ratings agency Moody's cut the United Kingdom's debt rating last week, while Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned of a significant risk of further disappointments to domestic economic growth.

Investor focus later in the day will be on Brexit-related news, with Britain and the European Union set to revive negotiations on a trade deal that appeared all but dead last week, with each side telling the other it needed to fundamentally change course.

"What was decisive for the market was the fact that the British government did not end talks with the EU, as had been threatened," said Commerzbank analyst Esther Reichelt.

Amigo Holdings Plc AMGO.L tumbled 6.5% after saying it had entered an Asset Voluntary Requirement (AVR) with Britain's financial watchdog, meaning the subprime lender will need approval to transfer assets outside of the group.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

((Devik.Jain@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2062; ;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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