The FTSE 100 is slightly higher ahead of the beginning of Brexit negotiations

LONDON — The FTSE 100 has opened slightly higher on Wednesday morning, ahead of the official start of Brexit negotiations later in the day.

London’s leading index of shares is up 0.14%, or 10.08 points, to 7,353.50¬†at just after 8.45 a.m. BST (3.45 a.m. ET).

The index is being led higher by private equity group 3i, up over 3% after an upgrade from Morgan Stanley, and miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. BHP is up just over 2% and Rio just over 1%.

Like many FTSE 100 companies, Rio and BHP are getting a boost from the weak pound. Both are multinational companies who report earnings in dollars, so a weak pound makes their sterling-denominated share price look cheap.

The pound is falling on Wednesday ahead of the triggering of Article 50 at lunchtime, which begins the official two-year Brexit negotiating process. The UK government is set to deliver a letter to the European Commission beginning the process at 12.30 p.m. BST (7.30 a.m. ET).

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, says in an email: “In theory, the triggering of Article 50 shouldn’t have any real effect on the pound or the FTSE. When Theresa May’s handwritten letter is delivered to Donald Tusk at midday nothing surprising will happen; it is just the Brexit train, having been given the green light last June, finally leaving the station. Yet such a clinical approach ignores the sentiment that surrounds this momentous occasion, when the government’s shambolic approach to Brexit turns from embarrassing to something far more dangerous.

“Yet such a clinical approach ignores the sentiment that surrounds this momentous occasion, when the government’s shambolic approach to Brexit turns from embarrassing to something far more dangerous.”

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