London stocks rise, pound lower before Brexit 'Plan B'

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from the rear of 10 Downing Street in central London on January 18, 2019. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from the rear of 10 Downing Street in central London on January 18, 2019. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

London - London's stock market climbed Monday, aided by a falling pound, with traders awaiting the UK government's Brexit "Plan B" after the country's parliament voted down Prime Minister Theresa May's original EU divorce deal.

The eurozone's top stock markets dropped, while Asian indices closed higher.

There was mixed news out of China, with official data showing the country's economic growth at its slowest pace in 28 years offsetting a report that the country has offered to eliminate its massive trade surplus with the United States - easing trade war tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

In Europe, "the pound has come under some early pressure at the beginning of the week as Prime Minister Theresa May gets set to outline her so called Plan B", noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

A weaker pound tends to lift the FTSE 100, which features numerous multinationals earning in euros and dollars.

Britain meanwhile is on course to crash out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal unless UK MPs can force a delay or come up with an alternative plan that Brussels is also happy with.

"Beyond an update from Theresa May, markets are somewhat devoid of market moving events, with the Chinese data released overnight providing the basis for market sentiment outside of the UK today," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.

"With the US observing Martin Luther King day, European traders are expecting lower volumes and thus potentially higher volatility," he added.

Global stock markets had rallied on Friday, buoyed by hopes of a breakthrough in efforts to defuse a US-China trade war.

China's top economics negotiator is due to visit Washington later this month for more talks as the end of a 90-day truce agreed between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping draws closer.

"For now markets are going ahead with the growing perception that there is a lot of willingness by both parties to make a deal," said National Australia Bank senior strategist Rodrigo Catril.

"But... the market is also likely to demand more concrete evidence that a deal looks more likely than not."

Key figures around 11:15 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3% at 6 987.26 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4% at 11 158.24

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1% at 4 869.61

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3% at 3 126.88

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3% at 20 719.33 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.4% at 27 196.54 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6% at 2 610.51 (close)

New York - DOW: UP 1.4% at 24 706.35 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2854 from $1.2867 at 22:00 GMT Friday

Euro/pound: UP at 88.52 pence from 88.29 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1379 from $1.1365

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.62 yen from 109.72

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN seven cents at $62.63 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP two cents at $53.82

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