Stocks steady, pound jumps on Brexit ruling

Stocks steady, pound jumps on Brexit ruling

Global equity prices, rattled by worries about the US presidential election, steadied yesterday after a UK court ruled that the British Parliament must approve a government decision to trigger Brexit, lifting the pound to a three-week high.

US Treasury prices slipped after the Bank of England scrapped plans to cut interest rates and projected higher inflation, while oil prices remained weak.

“The market is having a bit of a rethink about the slide in the past few days, and the UK court decision this morning is also lifting equities a little bit,” said Michael Baughen, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank in Tampa.

The court decision, which will be appealed in early December, appeared to offer hope to investors who worry Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet is set on a “hard” exit from the EU. The sterling topped $1.24 for the first time in three weeks.

Tension in markets, rattled this week by a tightening race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, eased a little after the UK court ruling.

MSCI's 47-country “All World” index, was flat, supported by a slightly higher Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 35.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 17,994.84, the S&P 500 gained 2.82 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 2,100.76 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 5.03 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,100.54.

“Any news that might indicate that Brexit is not necessarily a certainty or could be delayed is going to be positive for the pound and the markets in general,” said John De Clue, chief investment officer, The Private Client Reserve of US Bank in Minneapolis.

Facebook shares fell as much as 5.5 per cent and were the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq, a day after the social media giant warned that revenue growth would slow this quarter.

European shares looked set to end an eight-day losing streak on solid corporate results. Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.19 per cent at 1,310.90.

In bond markets, US Treasury prices dipped, with long-dated bonds underperforming.

The Bank of England scrapped plans to cut interest rates and indicated that inflation is likely to rise further. It ramped up its forecasts for growth and predicted that inflation would jump to 2.7 per cent this time next year, nearly triple its current level.

Benchmark 10-year notes were down 4/32 in price to yield 1.81 per cent, up from 1.80 per cent late on Wednesday.

The US dollar stabilised from multi-week lows against a basket of major currencies on reduced US election fears after a New York Times/CBS a poll showed Clinton maintained a narrow lead over Trump.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was still down 0.11 per cent on the day at 97.295.

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