Global stocks hit two-week high as U.S. jobs report spreads relief

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FILE PHOTO -US News & World Report

LONDON – Global shares hit a two-week high on Monday as favorable U.S. jobs data whetted risk appetites, while sterling brushed off the resignation of two ministers over Britain’s departure from the European Union as traders focused on the likelihood of a “soft Brexit”.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, rose 0.4 percent, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.6 percent, led by a strong rise across mining stocks.

The pound regained ground after an earlier wobble after news broke that Brexit Secretary David Davis and Minister Steven Baker had resigned in opposition to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for leaving the EU.

Sterling hit its highest level since June 14, up 0.4 percent at $1.3344. Britain’s FTSE gained 0.3 percent.

The move came just two days after a meeting at May’s Chequers country residence supposedly sealed a cabinet deal on Brexit and underlines the deep divisions in her ruling Conservative Party over the departure from the EU.

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“Sterling up and FTSE up does suggest that there’s a slight sigh of relief generally,” Ian Williams, economics & strategy research analyst at Peel Hunt, said.

“(The UK) is quite defensive, so in trade war times when industrials and tech are getting clobbered, that’s not so much of problem for the UK because those sectors are not as big in weighting terms as they are for the Euro zone or the U.S.,” added Williams.

More broadly, sentiment across markets was mostly positive after Friday’s U.S. payrolls report showed tame wages and more people looking for work.

“The combination of rising employment and increased labor force participation suggests healthy but not tightening labor market conditions in June, something that will allow the Fed to continue to hike rates at a gradual pace,” said Kevin Cummins, a senior U.S. economist at RBS.

The balanced report helped Japan Nikkei end 1.2 percent higher, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 firmed 0.4 percent, set to extend Friday’s rally when the jobs report was released.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed 1.3 percent, on top of 0.7 percent rally on Friday when the launch of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports came and went without too many fireworks.

In currency markets, the U.S. dollar was mostly softer following the jobs report.

Against a basket of currencies the dollar had pulled back to 93.829 .DXY, from a top of 94.486 on Friday. The euro held its gains at $1.1767, while the dollar was flat on the yen at 110.42. – Reuters

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