Sterling slipped into the red, reversing earlier gains ahead of the official triggering of Article 50.
The pound dipped 0.3 per cent against the euro to €1.152, and fell some 0.5 per cent against the dollar to $1.248 as investors braced for the start of Brexit negotiations.
However, the currency’s decline buoyed the benchmark FTSE 100 Index, which rose nearly 0.7 per cent or 49.92 points to 7,343.42. Multinational stocks on the blue chip barometer tend to benefit when foreign currencies are stronger.
Germany’s Dax was up more than 1 per cent, while France’s Cac-40 rose a more modest 0.6 per cent.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “While sentiment over the past few days has been on the negative side as a result of US President Trump’s local difficulties, the absence of any significant positive drivers is seeing investors adopt a cautious tone as we head into the end of the month and the quarter.”
Tesco shares ended the day up 1.25p at 191.2p amid news that it would take a £200 million-plus hit after reaching an agreement with authorities over its accounting scandal that will see it make a hefty compensation payout to investors.
Wolseley shares jumped 247p to 5,130p as the Plumb Center owner announced plans to rename itself as Ferguson, and pull out of the Nordics where results have been under pressure.
Ladbrokes Coral shares fell 2.3p to 133p. It came as the bookmaker reported a big loss for 2016 after it was hit by the costs of its merger.