Asian stocks and the British pound rose ahead of the Christmas holidays on Thursday, as the UK and EU moved closer to a free trade deal and investors bet on the prospects for an economic recovery global.
The largest MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan rose 0.45%. Australian stocks ended up 0.33%, while Tokyo stocks were up 0.45%.
Chinese stocks fell 0.28%.
Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd fell 8.13%, its biggest daily drop in six weeks, after the Chinese market regulator said it would investigate the tech giant for suspected monopoly behavior.
US equity futures edged up 0.16%.
FTSE futures rose 0.56%. Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 1.15%, while German DAX futures rose 1.28%, signaling a bright start to the European session.
Investors applauded the news that the UK and the European Union were set to strike a tightly focused trade deal on Thursday that would help them avoid a turbulent economic disruption on New Years Day.
Hopes of additional budget spending and expectations that coronavirus vaccines will be more available next year have also supported global actions.
“A pro-risk, low dollar theme dominated markets on optimism over vaccines, fiscal stimulus in the US and UK and Brexit, in the hope that an agreement on the latter can be concluded before Christmas, ”ANZ Bank analysts wrote in a research note.
The potential for a Brexit deal boosted the pound, which rose 0.47% to $ 1.3558. The pound edged up to 90.05 pence per euro.
The pound also drew support after France lifted its freight ban from the UK, which it enacted in response to a more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the UK.
MSCI’s global equities gauge rose 0.12%, but moves were subdued in holiday trading.
Alibaba, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, was the stock to watch in Asia on Thursday as Chinese authorities stepped up their campaign against big tech companies.
Separately, Ant Group, the mobile payments and consumer credit arm of Ma’s tech empire, said it would comply with all regulatory requirements after China’s financial watchdogs announced that ‘they would be having regulatory discussions with him in the coming days.
China last month ended Ant Group’s initial $ 37 billion public offering, crushing what would have been the world’s largest IPO.
Wall Street ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 0.38% and the S&P 500 up 0.07%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.29%.
A series of mixed economic data in the United States showed a drop in jobless claims and a rise in new durable goods orders, but also a decline in consumer spending, a fall in personal income and a decrease in confidence as the holiday shopping season is drawing to a close amid a resurgent pandemic.
Investors have largely ignored comments from US President Donald Trump that a nearly $ 900 billion stimulus bill, approved after months of wrangling in Congress, was “a shame” that he might not sign.
“Risk sentiment is driving the markets so far today and it seems to be geared more towards possible optimism about a Brexit deal and the carefully selected parts of US publications, rather than reckless antics of Trump on signing the stimulus and funding bill, “said Derek Holt, head of the economics of financial markets at Scotiabank.
Brent futures rose 38 cents to $ 51.58 a barrel at 05:30 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 31 cents to $ 48.43, supported by lower U.S. stocks and a possible trade deal on Brexit.