Stocks rise on upbeat earnings, sterling drops on Brexit prospects

Parvez Jabri July 23, 2019

NEW YORK: A host of strong earnings boosted US stocks on Tuesday and world stocks edged higher in anticipation of central bank easing, while sterling fell after Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson won the leadership of Britain’s Conservative Party, clearing the way for him to become prime minister.

Dow components Coca-Cola Co and United Technologies Corp both beat second-quarter earnings expectations as the reporting season shifts into high gear.

“When you combine a loosening Fed and better-than-expected earnings, that should be gas in the tank for stocks,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York.

“The offset to that is the IMF report,” Pursche added.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast for this year and next, citing concerns about the protracted tariff disputes between the United States and its trading partners and the prospect of Britain exiting the European Union (Brexit) without a deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 74.49 points, or 0.27%, to 27,246.39, the S&P 500 gained 9.89 points, or 0.33%, to 2,994.92 and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.83 points, or 0.13%, to 8,214.97.

The European STOXX 600 benchmark rose about 1%, helped by a 6% surge in automakers and growing certainties of policy easing from the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.98% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.28%.

The dollar hit a two-week high against a basket of world currencies, on the heels of a congressional deal to extend the US debt limit for two years, easing fears of a government default.

But the British pound slid after Johnson, who has promised to lead Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal by the end of October, won the Conservative Party leadership and will replace Theresa May as the country’s prime minister.

“At best you’d describe Boris Johnson as an unpredictable force,” said Pursche. “He’s not somebody who’s going to calm markets.”

With Johnson at the helm, credit ratings agency Moody’s and investment Goldman Sachs both warned the risk of a no-deal Brexit was now higher.

“We raise our odds on a ‘no deal Brexit from 15% to 20%, and we reduce our odds on ‘no Brexit’ at all from 40% to 35%,” Goldman said.

The dollar index rose 0.41%, with the euro down 0.47% to $1.1155.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.20% versus the greenback at 108.11 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2445, down 0.23% on the day.

Brent crude prices eased as worries faded over escalating tensions in the Middle East following Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker.

US crude was up 0.2% at $56.33 per barrel and Brent was last at $63.23, down 0.05% on the day.

US Treasury yields inched higher as market participants eyed upcoming ECB and Fed meetings for new signals about how many interest rate cuts can be expected.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.0602%, from 2.043% late on Monday.

The 30-year bond last fell 19/32 in price to yield 2.5966%, from 2.57% late on Monday.

Gold prices were a bit lower, held in check by a robust dollar.

Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $1,422.50 an ounce.

Copper lost 0.71% to $5,975.00 a tonne.

Three-month aluminum on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.11% to $1,818.00 a tonne.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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