Brexit hopes push stocks, pound higher
US stocks gained overnight as President Trump asked Congress to increase the planned $600 stimulus checks included in the coronavirus relief package to $2,000. On the data front, the Labor Department said fewer U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. There were 803,000 applications for jobless benefits in the most recent week, a decline of 89,000 from the prior week. Other reports showed that personal incomes slid 1.1% in November and consumer spending fell 0.4% while durable goods orders rose for a seventh straight month. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%, the S&P 500 index eked out a gain of 0.1%, snapping a three-session slide. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%.
Asian stocks were mostly positive on Thursday while equities in in Shanghai fell after China’s market regulator said it has launched an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Alibaba stocks fell over 8% amid the reports while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.66%. Elsewhere, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.54% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged just 0.16% higher. In South Korea, the Kospi jumped 1.70% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.33%.
European stocks opened higher for the third straight session on Thursday, with banks leading the gains as a Brexit trade deal seemed almost at hand. According to the latest reports, Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said that he expects a deal today. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.1%, retaining a bullish bias in the early hours.
Elsewhere, the cable jumped amid Brexit hopes, nearing the 1.3600 figure that could be easily broken if the upcoming EU-UK conference leads to a long-awaited trade deal. EURUSD retains a bullish bias as well while refraining from a decisive recovery above the 1.2200 figure despite dollar weakness.
In other markets, gold prices continue bullish attempts after yesterday’s gains as the greenback is on the defensive again. The bullion extended gains to the $1,880 area, a break above which could pave the way toward $1,900. However, the upside potential in the short term remains limited as positive risk sentiment dominates global financial markets.