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Pound slides as Brexit uncertainty dents UK manufacturing

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UK manufacturing fuelled by Brexit uncertainty and wider global growth weakness, traders said.

Sterling was down around half a percent versus the dollar and euro approaching midday in London.

That helped lend strong support to London's FTSE 100 shares index that features numerous multinationals earning in dollars and euros.

"Sterling fell out of bed as the UK manufacturing sector was shown to suffer its sharpest decline in seven years," said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

The IHS Markit UK Manufacturing purchasing managers' index dived to 47.4 in August, which was the lowest level since July 2012, languishing below the 50 mark that indicates growth.

Market expectations had been for an August print of 48.4, after 48 in July.

"High levels of economic and political uncertainty alongside ongoing global trade tensions stifled the performance of UK manufacturers in August," said Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the stakes Monday in a pivotal week of the Brexit saga by threatening to purge ruling party lawmakers who try to block a no-deal divorce with the EU.

The warning came as UK Conservative heavyweights such as former finance minister Philip Hammond plotted a way to keep the premier from taking Britain out of the European Union without an agreement on October 31 amid warnings it could be disastrous for the economy.

Earlier Monday, most Asian stock markets fell after fresh Chinese and US tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars kicked in, though US President Donald Trump reiterated that the two sides were still due to hold talks this month.

Hong Kong was additionally weighed down by another weekend of violence, fuelling worries about possible Chinese intervention in the financial hub, while the unrest has hit property firms and Macau's casinos.

But Shanghai rose more than one percent after a better-than-expected reading on Chinese factory activity.

Washington's latest levies on imports from China meanwhile took effect on Sunday and were followed by Beijing's retaliation.

The measures are the latest in the long-running trade war between the world's top two economies, which has rattled markets and hit growth across the globe.

Still, Trump said negotiators would meet this month to discuss the issue. "We are talking to China, the meeting is still on," he told reporters.

Investors were keeping an eye also on Argentina, which Sunday imposed foreign-exchange controls on exporters as it closed out a week of financial uncertainty that saw a sharp drop in the peso.

Elsewhere Monday, oil prices fell further after Friday's steep losses triggered by worries about the impact of the trade war on demand.

Dealers were concerned also about reports that the Russian output cut last month fell short of an agreement with OPEC.

- Key figures around 1030 GMT -
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2083 from $1.2162 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 90.78 pence from 90.37 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0966 from $1.0992

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.35 yen from 106.26 yen

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,297.95 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 11,973.73

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,494.06

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,437.81

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 20,620.19 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 25,626.55 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.3 percent at 2,924.11 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 26,403.28 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 15 cents at $54.95 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 16 cents at $59.09 per barrel


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