Pound jumps, Asian shares rise after changes to Brexit deal

March 12, 2019

By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The pound jumped on Tuesday and Asian shares rose after the European Commission agreed to changes in a Brexit deal ahead of a vote in the British parliament on a divorce agreement.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to additional assurances in an updated Brexit deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, but warned UK lawmakers would not get a third chance to endorse it.

Sterling, which had risen ahead of the talks between May and Juncker, extended gains in hopes the changes may be enough to sway rebellious British lawmakers who have threatened to vote down May’s plan again on Tuesday.

The pound was up 0.7 percent, buying $1.3239 and taking its gains for two days to more than 1.6 percent.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.3 percent, following on from a rally on Wall Street overnight.

Australian shares were up 0.4 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index jumped 1.6 percent.

The amended Brexit deal gave a further boost to investors’ appetite for riskier assets, after global equity indexes climbed overnight on gains in technology stocks and expectations of more stimulus from China.

U.S. shares rebounded from a week-long losing streak, with news that U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp has agreed to buy Israeli chip designer Mellanox Technologies Ltd for $6.8 billion helping to boost tech shares.[.N]

A nearly 7 percent gain in Nvidia shares helped to propel the Nasdaq Composite 2.02 percent higher, to 7,558.06 points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.79 percent, with gains tempered by a 5.3 percent drop in Boeing shares after some airlines grounded the company’s new 737 MAX 8 passenger jet following a second deadly crash of the airliner in five months.

The S&P 500 gained 1.47 percent to 2,783.3.

In a morning note, analysts at ANZ said comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on the weekend that the central bank is in no hurry to raise rates had helped to boost riskier assets.

U.S. retail sales data from January, which came in above expectations, also helped to support shares despite downward revisions to December data, National Australia Bank analysts said in a note.

Yields on U.S. Treasury bonds rose, with benchmark 10-year Treasury notes at 2.6591 percent compared with its U.S. close of 2.641 percent on Monday.

The two-year yield was at 2.4957 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.477 percent.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of rivals, shed 0.18 percent to 97.034. But the dollar gained against the yen, adding 0.12 percent to 111.31.

The euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.1259.

U.S. crude ticked up 0.3 percent at $56.96 a barrel. Brent crude was also 0.3 percent higher to $66.77.

Spot gold was 0.1 percent less precious at $1,292.77 per ounce. [GOL/]

(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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