Fri, 22 Nov 2019

European traders ignore Brexit tensions, stocks largely unmoved

By Jay Jackson, Chicago News.Net
22 Jan 2019, 03:21 GMT+10

LONDON, UK - European stocks were mixed but little changed on Monday, in advance of a crucial speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

U.S. markets were closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.

May began her speech just as markets were closing so there was little impact on trading.

There was speculation Monday that the prime minister would seek to resolve the issue with the Irish border in an effort to win over support from within her own party to the deal she has negoitiated with the European Union.

She categorically ruled out another referendum.

"Our duty is to implement the decision of the first one," she told British parliamentarians.

"I fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country."

"Not least, strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break-up our United Kingdom," May said.

"It would require an extension of Article 50. We would very likely have to return a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament in May."

"And I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy," the British prime minister said.

At the close of trading in London on Monday, the FTSE 100 was up 2.26 points or 0.03% at 6,970.59.

The German Dax lost 69.34 points or 0.62% to 11,136.20.

The Paris-based CAC 40 fell 8.15 points or 0.17% to 4,867.78.

Foreign exchange markets were mixed, however the dollar gained ground across a number of currencies, albeit by only minor portions.

The pound was up a few basis points at 1.2896 around the close of trading in London Monday.

The euro was unchanged at 1.1369.

The Japanese yen weakened a tad to 109,62, as did the Swiss franc to 0.9970.

The Canadian dollar slipped to 1.3294. The Australian dollar was lower at 0.7158, while the New Zealand dollar gained a touch to 0.6732.

Earlier in Asia stock markets remained upbeat despite release of a report saying the Chinese economy fell to an annualised 6.4% growth rate in the final quarter of last year.

China's economy has been slowing in recent years. The 6.4% level has not been seen since 2009 during the GFC. It was however largely expected.

"Policy makers appear to be weighing up the medium term risks of further debt growth against short term trend, hence the relatively modest stimulatory policy thus far," Gerard Bung, a senior economist at NAB told Reuters Thomson.

"They may be data dependent for a couple of quarters to make any large move," he said.

With U.S. markets closed, volumes were lighter than usual.

At the close of trading Monday, the Australian All Ordinaries was up 12.30 points or 0.21% at 5,963.50.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed 53.26 points or 0.26% higher at 20,719.33.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite at the close had edged up 14.50 points or 0.56% to 2,610.51.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng finished ahead 105.72 points or 0.39% at 27,196.53.

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