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Asia stocks shake off Wall St. blues, sterling steady pre-Brexit talks

Asia stocks shake off Wall St. blues, sterling steady pre-Brexit talks

SINGAPORE: Asian stocks rose on Monday, shaking off Wall Street’s subdued performance on Friday, and sterling was steady after a van rammed into worshippers leaving a London mosque, killing at least one person, as markets braced for the start of Brexit talks. European stock markets were set for a strong start to the week, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100 to open 0.6 percent higher, France’s CAC 40 to be up 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX 0.2 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.7 percent. Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.6 percent. Australian shares added 0.3 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.4 percent. Chinese blue-chip shares advanced 0.8 percent on signs tight liquidity conditions were easing. Data showing home prices rose 10.4 percent in May from a year ago, although slowing from April’s 10.7 percent gain, helped boost real estate stocks.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.9 percent. “Generally, the environment still remains fairly positive for risk appetite,” said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore. “Now that the (Federal Reserve interest rate decision) is out of the way, the focus, for this region anyway, will remain on whether the economic environment will stay positive and the recovery will continue.” On Friday, Wall Street ended mixed, with energy names offsetting declines in consumer stocks, which were clobbered by Amazon.com’s $13.7 billion deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods Market. The S&P 500 index closed flat, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.2 percent. Europe had a more upbeat session on Friday, with British, German and French stocks, as well as the broader STOXX Europe 600, closing higher.

The British pound was flat at $1.2777 after a van rammed into worshippers as they were leaving a Finsbury Park mosque in North London early on Monday. Police said one man had been pronounced dead and 10 people were injured, in what Britain’s largest Muslim organization said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia. The van driver has been arrested. British Prime Minister Theresa May said police confirmed the incident was being treated as a potential terrorist attack.

Brexit Secretary David Davis starts negotiations in Brussels on Monday, which will be followed by a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where May will encounter – but not negotiate with – fellow European Union leaders. Davis’s agreement to Monday’s agenda led some EU officials to believe that May’s government may at last be coming around to Brussels’ view of how negotiations should be run for Britain’s exit from the EU. May’s own immediate political survival is in doubt after she lost her parliamentary majority in an election. Projections showing a strong parliamentary majority for French President Emmanuel Macron following Sunday’s vote, giving him a powerful mandate to push through pro-business reforms, lent support to the euro.

The common currency was steady at $1.1195 , retaining Friday’s 0.5 percent gain. The dollar was little changed on Monday. On Friday, it fell after U.S. homebuilding dropped for a third month in May to the lowest in eight months and a barometer of U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell in early June, prompting concerns about the Federal Reserve’s plans to stick with its monetary policy tightening. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, was little changed at 97.182, failing to make up any of Friday’s 0.3 percent loss.