Asian stocks and pound joy Brexit and Alibaba plummet in monopoly investigation By Reuters

© Reuters. People wearing protective masks look at a stock ticker outside a brokerage in Tokyo

By Stanley White and John McCrank

TOKYO / NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks and the pound sterling rose on Thursday, before the Christmas holiday, with Britain and the European Union closing a free trade agreement and investors betting on the prospects for recovery global economic situation.

The broader MSCI index for Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.14%. Australian stocks rose 0.57%, while Tokyo stocks rose 0.43%.

Chinese shares rose 0.02%, but Alibaba (NYSE 🙂 Group Holding Ltd fell 6.28%, its biggest daily drop in six weeks, after China’s market regulator said it would investigate the tech giant on suspicion of monopolistic behavior.

US stock futures were up 0.11%.

Investors applauded the news that Britain and the European Union were on the verge of closing a narrow trade deal on Thursday, which would help to avoid navigation and travel chaos on both sides of the English Channel.

Hopes for more fiscal spending and expectations that coronavirus vaccines will become more available in the next year also supported global actions.

“A pro-risk and weak dollar theme dominated the markets with optimism regarding vaccines, fiscal stimulus from the United States and the United Kingdom and Brexit, with the hope that an agreement on the latter can be reached before Christmas,” wrote analysts ANZ Bank in a research memo.

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

The pound also attracted support after France lifted its freight ban from Britain, which it had enacted in response to a more contagious variant of the coronavirus in Britain.

The global stock index for MSCI rose 0.1%, but movements were subdued in the narrow holiday trade.

Alibaba, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, was the action to be watched in Asia on Thursday, as Chinese officials stepped up their campaign against the big tech companies.

Separately, Ant Group, the mobile payments and consumer credit arm of Ma’s technological empire, said it would comply with all regulatory requirements after China’s financial inspectors announced they would conduct regulatory negotiations with him in the coming days.

Last month, China suspended the initial $ 37 billion Ant Group double listing public offering, crushing what would have been the biggest stock market debut in the world.

Wall Street ended higher on Wednesday, closing 0.38% higher and 0.07% higher.

O fell 0.29%.

A series of mixed economic data from the United States showed fewer claims for unemployment benefits and an increase in new orders for durable goods, but also a retraction in consumer spending, a drop in personal income and weakening sentiment as the shopping season Christmas is coming to an end amid a new pandemic.

Investors largely ignored comments by U.S. President Donald Trump that a nearly $ 900 billion stimulus bill, passed after months of congressional dispute, was “a shame” that he might not sign.

“The feeling of risk is guiding the markets so far and seems to be more geared towards possible optimism about a deal with Brexit and the hand-picked parts of US launches, rather than Trump’s reckless antics about the signing of the stimulus and financing project, “said Derek Holt, head of economics for capital markets at Scotiabank.

US West Texas Intermediate oil futures rose 18 cents to $ 48.30 a barrel at 0124 GMT, while futures rose 20 cents to $ 51.40, driven by a reduction in US stocks and a possible Brexit trade deal .