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Perhaps it was unwise for British ministers to bank on Germany taking a softer approach on the terms of Brexit.

Berlin and Rome have joined Paris in backing the European Commission’s plan to rule out starting trade talks with Britain until the UK gives assurances on the estimated €60bn exit bill and citizens’ rights.

The emphasis Brussels and member states now place on the exit bill contrasts sharply with EU leaders’ suggestions last summer that they were open to the idea of parallel trade talks in discussions with Prime Minister Theresa May. Since then Mrs May has increasingly favoured a hard Brexit, with no UK membership of the single market.

In Asia Pacific equities stock markets were faring poorly on Friday, with Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index down 0.8 per cent and both Tokyo’s Topix and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng indices down 0.5 per cent.

Futures tip the FTSE 100 to open flat in London, while the S&P 500 is expected to open down 0.1 per cent in New York.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Standard Chartered, BASF, Pearson, RBS, Standard Life, William Hill, IMI, IAG and Jupiter Fund Management.

The economic calendar for Friday is really just coasting at this point (all times London):

  • 07.45: France consumer confidence
  • 08.00: Spain producer price inflation
  • 09.00: Italy industrial orders
  • 09.30: UK BBA mortgage approvals
  • 10.00: Italy business and consumer confidence indices
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