Friday, 19th April, 2024
Friday, 19th April, 2024

Pound rises on Brexit talks extension, vaccine lifts stocks

HONG KONG, Dec 14, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Sterling rallied Monday after Britain and the European Union agreed to extend talks on a post-Brexit trade deal past a self-imposed deadline, while Asian markets mostly rose despite surging coronavirus infections tempering vaccine optimism.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said after a crisis call that they would “go the extra mile” to find common ground in long-running talks.

“Our negotiating teams have been working day and night over recent days,” said von der Leyen, reading a joint statement agreed with Johnson as their Sunday deadline passed, with sticking points on issues including fishing rights and fair trade regulations.

“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached.”

The news gave the pound a boost against the dollar and euro, though Johnson warned a deal was far from sure with less than three weeks until Britain leaves the single market on December 31.

“I’m afraid we’re still very far apart on some key things, but where there’s life there’s hope,” he said.

Both the EU and Britain were “now said to be showing flexibility”, said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

“The view remains that Johnson will bet he can find a sufficient compromise to appease the Brexiteers rather than risk the political fallout from a no-deal exit whilst simultaneously facing the ongoing Covid crisis and likely lockdown scenarios” heading into the first quarter of 2021, Innes added.

– Back to the trenches –

Investors are keeping tabs on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are still battling to hammer out a fresh stimulus for the beleaguered US economy, with hope they can reach a deal before the end of the year.

However, with both sides digging their heels in, analysts said there were worries about their chances of success.

“After the early passage of a huge relief package in March, both parties have gone back into their partisan trenches, seemingly more willing to inflict pain on the economic victims of the pandemic than to cede an inch of ground,” said David Kelly at JP Morgan Asset Management.

Still, the rollout of vaccines is keeping traders optimistic, even as surging infections force governments to impose strict containment measures, with Germany the latest to announce a lockdown.

US regulators gave the go-ahead for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab on Friday and officials said 20 million Americans could receive by the end of the year and 100 million by March.

The vaccine “is giving markets the ability to look past the valley”, Andy Kapyrin, of RegentAtlantic Capital LLC, told Bloomberg TV.

Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and Singapore all enjoyed healthy gains, while there was also advances in Seoul, Jakarta and Bangkok, though Taipei and Wellington dipped.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 26,823.25 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 26,525.73

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,352.30

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3317 from $1.3229 at 2220 GMT on Friday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.14 pence from 91.55 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2125 from $1.2118

Dollar/yen: UP at 104.04 yen from 104.01 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $46.62 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $50.04 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 30,046.37 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,546.75 (close)

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