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Global stocks mixed as pound sinks, Airbnb surges

Agence France-Presse

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Global stocks mixed as pound sinks, Airbnb surges

FEARLESS GIRL. People walk past the New York Stock Exchange and Fearless Girl statue at Wall Street in New York City on December 9, 2020.

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP

Equity gains are curbed by politicians' inability to reach agreements on post-Brexit trade arrangements, and by surging COVID-19 cases

Global stocks were mixed on Thursday, December 10, as oil surged, Airbnb sparkled in its stock market debut, and the British pound fell on the growing risk of a no-deal Brexit.

Oil prices leapt higher as traders looked for economic activity to pick up as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out, and the enlarged OPEC+ group stuck to its deal for a smaller output hike.

The contract for Brent crude rose to $50 for the first time since March 6.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled its latest economic forecasts after providing more stimulus to help eurozone members withstand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Equity gains were curbed, however, by politicians’ inability to reach agreements on post-Brexit trade arrangements, and by surging COVID-19 cases that offset to some extent the effect of the vaccine introduction.

Sterling slid against the euro and dollar after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen failed to find common ground in crunch talks on Wednesday, December 9.

On Thursday, however, the ECB made good on chief Christine Lagarde’s indications that extra support was on the way.

The central bank boosted its main virus-fighting tool, the pandemic emergency bond-buying program (PEPP), by 500 billion euros ($600 billion) to 1.85 trillion euros and extended the scheme from June 2021 to March 2022.

The ECB also kept its main interest rates at historic lows.

Wall Street stocks finished mixed following a disappointing spike in new applications for United States unemployment benefits in a sign the latest spike in coronavirus cases is weighing on activity.

“Given COVID-19 cases and deaths are now regularly setting new highs, these reports put into question job growth in December, especially given the rapid slowdown in growth in November,” said Robert Frick of Navy Federal Credit Union.

But home-sharing platform Airbnb more than doubled its initial public offering price to finish at $144.71. The company raised $3.4 billion in the stock offering amid a feverish rush for new shares in companies adapting to lifestyle changes imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain, EU ‘remain far apart’

Back in Europe, after 8 months of negotiations and with just 3 weeks until a deadline on reaching a post-Brexit deal, Brussels and London remained stuck on various issues including fishing rights and rules for fair trade.

“We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play across the list of outstanding issues,” von der Leyen said in a statement after dinner with Johnson at her Brussels’ headquarters. 

“We gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain far apart.”

But in subsequent remarks, Johnson warned last-gasp talks for a Brexit trade deal with the European Union could fail, and urged the public to prepare for a “no deal.”

The pound has slumped on currency markets as traders adjust to the looming possibility that after 5 decades of integration between Britain and mainland Europe, cross-Channel trade will be subject anew to tariffs and quotas in the New Year.

Key figures around 9:45 pm GMT
  • New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2% at 29,999.26 (close)
  • New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.1% at 3,668.10 (close)
  • New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.5% at 12,405.81 (close)
  • London – FTSE 100: UP 0.5% at 6,599.76 points (close)
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3% at 13,295.73 (close)
  • Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1% at 5,549.65 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2% at 3,522.31 (close)
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2% at 26,756.24 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4% at 26,410.59 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,373.28 (close)
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3299 from $1.3399 at 10 pm GMT
  • Euro/pound: UP at 91.28 pence from 90.16 pence
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2141 from $1.2081
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 104.22 yen from 104.23 yen
  • West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.8% at $46.78 per barrel
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.8% at $50.25 per barrel


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