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FTSE rises as international stocks gain amid Brexit turmoil

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By Euronews  with REUTERS BUSINESS
The London Stock Exchange Group
The London Stock Exchange Group   -   Copyright  TOBY MELVILLE(Reuters)

UK blue-chip shares were slightly higher on Wednesday on gains in British American Tobacco, Rolls Royce and companies with international earnings, as political chaos deepened following a leadership challenge to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was up 0.4 percent at 0844 GMT, with HSBC, which makes a big chunk of its revenue abroad, the biggest contributor to the market's gains.

The more domestically focussed midcap index <.FTMC> which makes 50 percent of its income from the UK, was flat in choppy trade as investors digested news that May faced a no confidence vote against her later in the day, the latest twist in the saga over the country's divorce from the European Union.

The pound was up 0.3 percent, suggesting traders reckon she will win the vote.

Mining stocks, BHP Group and Rio Tinto , were among the top gainers in line with higher base metals prices, following U.S. President Donald Trump's upbeat comments about a trade deal with China, while the dollar held near a one-month peak against its peers.

Wood Group fell 6.2 percent to the bottom of the FTSE as its cautious outlook on contracts as its oil-producing clients struggle with volatile prices offset an upbeat earnings outlook.

Housebuilders Persimmon , Taylor Wimpey , Berkeley Group and Barratt Development fell 0.9 to 1.4 percent as investors shunned stocks seen as some of the most sensitive to a hard Brexit.

Retailers Next and Marks & Spencers were also among top fallers, down 1.8 and 1.3 percent respectively, as disappointing news from clothes retailer Superdry and phone and electronics chain Dixons Carphone further dented confidence in the battered retail sector.

Superdry plunged 32 percent and Dixons sank 10 percent on the midcap index, while Metro Bank lost 5.7 percent after a Citi downgrade.