Asian shares tick up, European stocks diverge at open

  • 21 Oct 2019

The British pound slid after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to request another Brexit extension.

In this October 11, 2019 photo, a man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index and other Asian market index at a securities firm in Tokyo. Asian shares were mixed on October 21, amid uncertainties about Britain’s exit from the European Union and the ongoing trade conflict. ( Eugene Hoshiko / AP )

Asian stocks edged up, Europe's main stock markets diverged at the open on Monday, and the pound slid after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to request another Brexit extension.

In initial trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 shares index rose 0.3 percent at 7,172.00 points.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.2 percent to stand at 12,656.19 points, while the Paris CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent to 5,629.75.

Chinese shares reversed early losses, supported by hopes for progress in resolving the US-China trade war, while sterling slipped after the British parliament delayed a crucial vote on a Brexit withdrawal deal.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.25 percent. Chinese shares advanced 0.31 percent, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.30 percent.

Sterling declines

Sterling meanwhile declined 0.4 percent, from a five-month high against the dollar, while the euro gained 0.2 percent in value versus the pound.

"The British pound has lost its mojo on the back of the current developments," noted ThinkMarkets analyst Naeem Aslam.

A defiant British government has however doubled down, insisting it will leave the European Union in 11 days despite parliament's forcing a reluctant prime minister to request another delay.

On a day of high drama on Saturday, MPs in the House of Commons passed up the chance to decide on the revised withdrawal agreement that Johnson had negotiated with the European Union.

That defeat leaves Johnson under mounting pressure to find a way out of paralysing impasse on when and how Britain would leave the EU after the country narrowly voted to exit in a 2016 referendum. 

Elsewhere in the currency markets, the dollar edged 0.1 percent higher to $1.1158 per euro rose slightly to 108.53 yen.


Oil futures fell as lingering economic growth concerns and excess supplies of crude prompted speculators to trim their long positions.

US crude fell 0.22 percent to $53.66 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.27 percent to $59.26 per barrel.

Money managers cut their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week to October 15, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

Long bets on US crude have dropped sharply in the last two weeks after a spate of weak economic figures worldwide fanned concerns about global energy demand.

Encouraged by US-China Trade talks

The Chinese stock market appeared to take some encouragement from comments by Chinese vice premier Liu He on Friday that Beijing will work with the US to address each other's concerns, and that stopping the trade war would be good for both sides and the world.

Also on Friday, President Donald Trump said he thinks a trade deal between the US and China will be signed by the time Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings take place in Chile on November 16 to 17.

Shares in Hong Kong also got a lift after Chinese bourses revised rules to allow mainland investors to buy Hong Kong-listed dual-class shares for the first time.

"We've had some positive news from Liu, and allowing Chinese investors direct access to dual-listed Hong Kong shares is a another positive," said Sean Darby, global equity strategist at Jefferies in Hong Kong.

"There is still a lot of money on the sidelines, and there are only eight or nine weeks left to put that money to work before we end the year. I expect markets to remain bid."

US stock futures rose 0.22 percent in Asia as investors brace for high-profile earnings this week from Microsoft Corp, and others.

The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent on Friday partly due to worries about fallout from the US-China trade war.

Hong Kong shares erased early losses to rise 0.26 percent.

Chinese bourses on Friday revised rules that would allow Hong Kong-listed dual-class shares to be included in the Stock Connect scheme for the first time, which boosted shares of popular tech companies Xiaomi Corp and Meituan Dianping on Monday.

The rule change, which will take effect on October 28, could be a positive for Hong Kong shares, which have been battered during months of often violent protest against Chinese rule of the former British colony.

Treasury prices fell in Asia. The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.7607 percent.

Gold, often considered safe-haven asset, was little changed at $1,490.60 per ounce.