Live Sterling hits $1.36 as Brexit deal nears – live updates –

Good morning – we’re in something of a holding pattern as we await the white smoke from Brussels and Downing Street.

However, sterling is heading for $1.36 with a further 0.7pc gain this morning to $1.3582 and the FTSE 100 is 0.5 per cent higher, meaning markets do expect the deal to get over the line.

Domestic-focused stocks including Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays are leading the blue-chip risers this morning with gains of 6pc and almost 4pc respectively. It’s a short trading day with the market closing at lunchtime.

Across the Channel, the Cac 40 in Paris is 0.2pc higher, while Frankfurt is sensibly closed.

5 things to start your day: 

1) Investors bet on surging pound as Brexit deal close to being struck: Analysts predicted that sterling could rise by as much as 6pc against the euro to its highest level in months if a Brexit deal is finally struck.

2) Closing schools for a fortnight could cost economy up to £5bn: Sending students home delivers double blow of cancelling education, while stopping as many as 2m parents from working.

3) Tier 4 delivers Christmas nightmare for retailers: Over 170,000 businesses have already been forced to shut by Tier 4 restrictions, with another 50,000 to close from Boxing Day.

4) Truckers told to avoid gridlocked Kent: The warning “Avoid all travel to Kent ports including Eurotunnel, as well as other routes to France”, is being broadcast across Europe.

5) EasyJet prepares to strip investors of voting rights to avoid Brexit shutdown: Investors backed easyJet’s contingency plan to circumvent the strict EU ownership rules by stripping non-EU shareholders of voting rights.