UK Markets closed

What to Watch: MPs plot future of Brexit, Fever-Tree results, EU-China talks

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK
Members of parliament will vote on Wednesday on their preferred Brexit options. Photo: Tolga Akmen/Getty Images

Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Brexit: MPs take control

British members of parliament (MPs) are gearing up to vote on Wednesday on their preferred Brexit options in a bid to solve the Brexit impasse. However, there are concerns that no majority will emerge for any of the options, which could include a very soft Brexit or no Brexit at all.

The UK pound (GBPUSD=X, GBPEUR=X) was not making any big moves on Tuesday as the future of the UK and Brexit remains uncertain.

This upcoming round of voting gives MPs an unusual amount of control over setting the agenda and wrests power away from prime minister Theresa May and her government.

“UK lawmakers must arrive at an agreed course of action by April 12 and the plan also needs to be palatable to the European Union’s 27 member countries,” noted Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at the broker FXTM. “All these seemingly unending twists and turns only serve to ensure that the pound remains highly sensitive and volatile as Brexit uncertainties intensify in the near-term.”

The pound is up by about 4% against the US dollar and up 5.5% against the euro since the start of the year. However, the currency is still well below its pre-referendum levels from early 2016.

Food and drink in the spotlight: Ocado and Fever-Tree

Shares in Ocado (OCDO.L) are surging by about 5% to an all-time high after the food-delivery and logistics specialist announced it had inked a partnership deal with Australia’s Coles Group.

Coles Group, which is one of Australia’s largest retailers, plans to use Ocado’s know-how to improve its online grocery delivery business. 

This is Ocado’s fifth major overseas deal in less than 18 months.

READ MORE: Can Ocado’s deal-making frenzy continue?

Meanwhile, shares in drinks-maker Fever-Tree (FEVR.L) were getting shaken and stirred after the company reported its annual results for 2018. The stock was down by as much as 8% at the start of the day, but then posted a full recovery.

The company reported a 40% surge in sales in 2018 as consumers drank more gin and demanded Fever-Tree’s premium carbonated mixers. But the results also showed that Fever-Tree profit margins were getting squeezed and the company was not growing as quickly in the US market.

“UK growth was good at 53%, although of course slower than we have seen in previous years. US sales growth was encouraging, rising 21%, although they are yet to take off like they did in the UK market,” noted Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at trading platform Markets.com.

Global stock market overview

European stock markets were mixed on Tuesday morning. Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was posting some modest gains, while Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was slipping into the red. 

This comes after most Asian markets pushed higher on Tuesday.

US stock futures were also pointing up in the hours ahead of the opening bell. 

EU-China meetings

French president Emmanuel Macron welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace on Tuesday to discuss climate change and trade issues. German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker are also taking part in the talks.

Huawei launch in Paris

Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei is set to unveil its new flagship P30 and P30 Pro smartphones in Paris on Tuesday. This is a world premiere for the new phones.