World stocks rise ahead of vote to delay Britain’s exit from EU - GulfToday

World stocks rise ahead of vote to delay Britains exit from EU

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Traders work at the Frankfurt stock exchange in Frankfurt on Thursday. Reuters

Global stock markets pushed higher on Thursday as traders awaited a vote that could delay Britain›s March 29 exit from the European Union.

In Europe, Britain›s FTSE 100 added 0.5 per cent to 7,195 and France›s CAC 40 advanced 0.7 per cent to 5,341. Germany›s was 0.4 per cent higher at 11,61. Wall Street was set for a flat opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures trading in very narrow ranges.

The focus in markets will once again be on London where lawmakers will vote on whether to request an extension from the European Union over Britain›s scheduled departure from the bloc. Brexit is due to take place on March 29 but since lawmakers have not agreed a withdrawal agreement, a majority is expected to seek more time.

The latest vote comes a day after they voted 321-278 to signal that they didn›t want the country to leave the EU without a divorce agreement. The decision was not legally binding, but it spurred gains in the pound. Most of those gains have evaporated amid the uncertainty of the coming vote, and the pound was trading 0.6 per cent lower on the day at $1.3260.

The British pound retreated to $1.3288 from $1.3337 in early trading. The dollar jumped to 111.67 yen from 111.17 yen and the euro eased to $1.1324 from $1.1326.

In Asia, stocks wobbled after China said its industrial output grew at the slowest pace in 17 years. It added 5.3 per cent in the first two months of 2019 from the same period last year, official data showed Thursday.

Japan›s benchmark Nikkei 225 was almost flat at 21,287.02 while the Kospi in South Korea was up 0.3 per cent at 2,155.68. Hong Kong›s Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent to 28,851.39. Australia›s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 per cent to 6,179.60.

The Shanghai Composite gave up 1.2 per cent to 2,990.69. Shares fell Taiwan and Thailand but rose in Indonesia.

The euro was down 0.2 per cent at $1.1298 while the dollar rose 0.4 per cent to 111.64 yen.

Meanwhile, US stocks were edging lower in early trading on Wall Street Thursday as the market settles down after three days of gains.

Communications stocks led the decliners as Facebook fell 2.6 per cent amid reports of a criminal investigation into its data-sharing practices.

The losses were offset partly by gains in banks and technology stocks. JPMorgan Chase and Apple rose.

The market had been rallying throughout the week and reclaiming some of the momentum it had in January and February. Investors have been weighing a mixed bag of economic data while keeping a close watch on global trade issues. The markets have mostly brushed off the chaos surrounding Britain›s exit the European Union, its key trading bloc. Boeing started to level off after falling throughout the week as nations and airlines ground its newest 737s over safety concerns. A second deadly crash over the weekend involving its 737 Max 8 and safety concerns stunted the company›s stock gains.

Investors are also still waiting for more details on trade negotiations between the US and China. Media reports had stoked hope that a summit would take place this month, but no concrete announcement has been made.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points, or 0.1 per cent to 25,671 as of 10:50am. The S&P 500 index fell 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq composite also fell 0.2 per cent.

 Tailored Brands, which owns Men›s Wearhouse, plunged 24.7 per cent after giving investors a surprisingly weak first-quarter profit forecast. The company has been trying to increase sales at both Men›s Wearhouse and its Jos. A. Bank stores, but is facing a tougher retail market.

Dollar General fell 9.4 per cent after the company›s fourth-quarter profit fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The discount-store operator also gave investors a weak full-year profit forecast.

Facebook fell 2 per cent after the New York Times reported that its data-sharing practices are now under criminal investigation.

The investigation into how it sells data is the latest in a list of privacy scandals the social media company faces. Its privacy practices have already been scrutinized by The Federal Trade Commission. The company and its CEO have also faced Congressional inquiries.

Gold fell more than a per cent on Thursday, slipping below $1,300 for a second time this month, as fears of a no-deal Brexit faded and the dollar gained versus the pound ahead of a vote to extend the deadline for Britain›s exit from the European Union.

Spot gold was down 1.1 per cent at $1,295.34 per ounce at 11:03am, retreating from $1,311.07 hit on Wednesday, its highest since March 1.

US gold futures also dipped 1.1 per cent, to $1,295.20.

«The possibility of a no-deal Brexit being passed had increased the likelihood of widespread buying in gold, and now that it has been rejected, I think some of that safe haven buying in gold is likely to fade,» said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.

The dollar index drew strength from a subdued pound ahead of a parliamentary vote, expected to call for a short delay to Brexit, later in the day.

Associated Press