By Shashank Nayar and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) – London-listed stocks slipped on Wednesday as the fraught trade talks between Britain and the European Union remained in focus, while shares in The Hut Group <THG.L> surged after the biggest UK initial public offering since 2013.

The e-commerce firm, which helps sell retail brands including Lookfantastic and skincare group ESPA, gained 25% in its first day of trading.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 fell 0.4%, with strength in the pound weighing on its export-heavy constituents. The head of the European Commission said the chances of reaching a trade deal were fading by the day as the UK government pushes ahead with moves that would breach their divorce treaty.

The threat of a no-deal Brexit adds another layer of uncertainty to the British economy, which is still reeling from the shock of the coronavirus outbreak.

“A new word has been invented – Le Brovid – to describe the simultaneous fears of a no deal Brexit and the inability to get the UK COVID-19 reproduction rate below one,” strategists at Jefferies wrote in a note.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 <.FTMC> fell 0.1%, with losses mitigated by continued gains in insurers after a court ruling over COVID-19 payouts was seen as favourable.

Investors are now looking to the Bank of England’s policy meeting on Thursday for signs of more stimulus, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to wrap up its meeting with a renewed pledge to keep interest rates low for long.

British homebuilder Redrow <RDW.L> fell 1.8% after reporting a plunge in annual profit, while promising to renew dividend payouts next year as it halts investments in London and focuses on its Heritage Collection homes.

Construction firm Galliford Try Holdings <GFRD.L> rose 3.5% after it said it expects to return to profitability in fiscal 2021 as site activity resumes and productivity nears normal levels.

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Mark Potter)

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