Dollar weakens despite retail sales recovery
US stock market rebounded on Monday led by technology shares. The S&P 500 advanced 1.5% to 2783.30. Dow Jones industrial gained 0.8% to 25650.88. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2% to 7558.06. The dollar weakening accelerated despite data showing above expected 0.2% rise over month in retail sales in January, after downwardly revised 1.6% drop in December: the live dollar index data show the ICE US Dollar index, a measure of the dollar’s strength against a basket of six rival currencies, fell 0.4% to 97.00 but is higher currently. Futures on US stock indexes point to higher openings today.
UK parliament votes on Brexit deal today
European stocks recovered on Monday led by bank shares. GBP/USD joined EUR/USD in climbing higher supported by news the UK and the European Union agreed to “legally binding changes” to overcome a roadblock in the Brexit deal with both pairs retreating currently. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.8%. The DAX 30 gained 0.8% to 11543.48. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.7% and UK’s FTSE 100 added 0.4% to 7130.62.
The “legally binding changes” in the Brexit deal are about the mechanism in the deal designed to keep an open border between Britain’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. The mechanism, known as the backstop, is designed as a way to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trading relationship is established. Today UK parliament votes on the newly amended Brexit plan to leave the EU. The first vote on Brexit deal rejected it in January. Brexit supporters are concerned the backstop could be used to bind the country to EU regulations indefinitely. At a joint news conference with May European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned British lawmakers “it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all” and “there will be no new negotiations.” In case of another “no” vote, UK lawmakers will vote over the following two days on whether to leave the EU without an agreement, which is likely to be rejected, or to ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond the scheduled March 29 departure date.
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Nikkei leads Asian indices rally
Asian stock indices are extending gains today. Nikkei jumped 1.8% to 21503.69 helped by resumed yen slide against the dollar. Markets in China are higher: the Shanghai Composite Index is up 0.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is 1.3% higher. Australia’s All Ordinaries Index however extended losses 0.1% despite the Australian dollar resumed sliding against the greenback.
Brent futures prices are extending gains today still supported by OPEC supply cuts. Prices rallied yesterday after reports Saudi Arabia planned to reduce its crude exports to support prices: May Brent crude rose 1.3% to $66.58 a barrel on Monday.
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