Asian stocks slip on fresh COVID-19 concerns

Asian stocks and pound cheer Brexit, Alibaba slumps on monopoly probe

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The potential for a Brexit deal boosted sterling, which rose 0.3% to $1.3535. The pound held steady at 90.20 pence per euro.

The pound also drew support after France lifted its ban on freight coming from Britain, which it had enacted in response to a more contagious coronavirus variant in Britain.

MSCI’s gauge of global stocks was up 0.1%, but moves were subdued in thin holiday trading.

Alibaba, co-founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, was the stock to watch in Asia on Thursday as Chinese authorities stepped up their campaign against big technology companies.

Separately, Ant Group, the mobile payments and consumer credit arm of Ma’s tech empire, said it will comply with all regulatory requirements after China’s financial watchdogs said they will conduct regulatory talks with it in the next few days.

Last month, China halted Ant Group’s $37 billion dual-listing initial public offering, crushing what would have been the world’s largest stock market debut.

Wall Street ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 0.38% and the S&P 500 edging 0.07% higher.

The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.29%.

A raft of mixed U.S. economic data showed lower jobless claims and an uptick in new orders for durable goods, but also a pullback in consumer spending, falling personal income and fading sentiment as the holiday shopping season nears its end amid a resurgent pandemic.

Investors largely shrugged off comments by U.S. President Donald Trump that a nearly $900 billion stimulus bill, agreed upon after months of wrangling in Congress, was “a disgrace” that he might not sign.

Credit: Financial Post

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