Asian stocks and the British pound rose on the Thursday before the Christmas break as the UK and the European Union signed a free trade agreement and investors pinned the prospect of a global economic recovery.

The broadest MSCI index for stocks in Asia Pacific outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) rose 0.14%. Australian stocks (.AXJO) rose 0.57% while Tokyo stocks (.N225) rose 0.43%.

Chinese stocks (.CSI300) rose 0.02%, but Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK) slumped 6.28%, the largest daily decline in six weeks after China’s market regulator announced the tech giant was on suspected monopoly Investigate behavior. Continue reading

US stock futures gained 0.11%.

Investors welcomed the news that the UK and the European Union are on Thursday close to signing a close trade deal that would help avoid shipping and travel chaos on either side of the English Channel. Continue reading

Hopes for more household spending and expectations for coronavirus vaccines to become more available in the next year also supported global stocks.

“A risky and weak dollar theme dominated the markets in terms of optimism about vaccines, fiscal stimulus in the US and UK and Brexit, with the hope that an agreement can be reached before Christmas,” wrote analysts at ANZ Bank in a research memo.

The potential for a Brexit deal added to the pound sterling, which rose 0.3% to $ 1.3535. The pound remained stable at 90.20 pence per euro.

The pound also found support after France lifted its UK freight ban, which it put in place in response to a more contagious variant of coronavirus in the UK. Continue reading

MSCI’s rating for global stocks (.MIWD00000PUS) rose 0.1%, but moves in thin holiday trading have been subdued.

Alibaba, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, was the stock that was seen in Asia on Thursday as Chinese authorities stepped up their campaign against big tech companies.

Separately, Ant Group, the mobile payments and consumer credit division of Ma’s tech empire, said it would meet all regulatory requirements after China’s financial watchdogs announced that they would have regulatory talks with it in the next few days.

Last month, China halted the $ 37 billion double listing of the Ant Group, suppressing the world’s largest public offering.

Wall Street ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) up 0.38% and the S&P 500 (.SPX) up 0.07%.

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was down 0.29%.

A series of mixed US economic data showed lower jobless claims and a surge in durable goods orders, but also a decline in consumer spending, falling personal incomes, and fading sentiment as the holiday shopping season draws to a close amid a resurgent pandemic.

Investors largely shook US President Donald Trump’s comments that a nearly $ 900 billion stimulus package agreed after months of fighting in Congress was “a shame” that he may not sign. Continue reading

“Risk sentiment still guides the markets to this day, and seems more geared towards possible optimism about a Brexit deal and the cherry-picked pieces of US releases than Trump’s reckless antics in signing the stimulus and funding bill.” he told Derek Holt, head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank.

US West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 18 cents to $ 48.30 a barrel by 0124 GMT, while Brent crude oil futures rose 20 cents to $ 51.40, reflecting a decline in US inventories and a potential Brexit trade agreement was favored. OR

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