Stimulus bets prop up stocks
JOHANNESBURG - BETS ON more European Central Bank stimulus kept Europe's main stock markets and the euro steady yesterday, but Britain's pound saw its biggest drop in almost a month after overnight Brexit talks turned sour.
It had been a mixed session for Asia amid a surge in coronavirus cases and the ejection of some Chinese stocks from S&P Dow Jones' indices, so there was little surprise when Europe struggled to add to recent highs.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was flat, though London's FTSE 100 did score its eighth consecutive gain as the Brexit uncertainty pushed the pound down 0.8 percent to just under $1.33 (about R20) and 90.95 pence per euro.
EU and British leaders gave themselves until the end of the weekend to seal a new trade pact, with in the region of $1 trillion in annual trade at risk of tariffs if they can't reacha deal by December 31, when transition arrangements end.
"There's still clearly some scope to keep talking, but there are significant points of difference that remain," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC TV. "(On) Sunday, they need totake stock and decide on the future of negotiations."
For the ECB, economists expect its €1.35 trillion (R24.4 trillion) PEPP stimulus plan to be expanded by at least €500 billion and its duration extended by six months to the end of 2022, with risks skewed towards even more.
In Asian trading, MSCI's broadest index for the region eased 0.4 percent, with Japan's Nikkei ending 0.2 percent lower. Both are up more than 60 percent from March lows.
S&P 500 futures were holding about 0.1 percent higher, however, after the Nasdaq dropped 2 percent on Wednesday, when US regulators filed lawsuits against Facebook alleging the company used its dominance to buy or crush rivals, harming competition.