European shares rise on delayed Brexit vote, dollar gains; Wall Street flat

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global equity markets traded little changed on Thursday as European shares rose ahead of new voting that backed a Brexit delay and bolstered the dollar, while Wall Street meandered on uncertainty over U.S.-China trade talks.

The dollar gained for the first time in a week as the pound fell even after Parliament voted overwhelmingly to seek a delay to the March 29 deadline for Britain to exit the European Union.

Lawmakers also voted against a second referendum on EU membership as the delay vote set the stage for Prime Minister Theresa May to renew efforts to get a divorce deal approved by Parliament next week.

Sterling fell 0.72 percent to $1.3241 after gaining almost 2 percent late on Wednesday on a vote to defeat a “no-deal” Brexit.

European shares rose to a five-month high as sentiment improved from cautious to upbeat after the open. But a Bloomberg report of a likely delay in U.S.-China trade talks, coupled with fresh data showing weak U.S. home sales, hurt U.S. stocks.

Data showing China’s industrial output grew 5.3 percent in January and February, the slowest pace of expansion in 17 years, is also a concern and an important focus, said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco.

While fiscal and monetary stimulus will improve China’s economy down the road, fear of U.S.-China trade wars and economic slowdown are driving market sentiment for the moment.

“In general, what we have is a picture that doesn’t look particularly positive,” Hooper said.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.06 percent while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares closed up 0.77 percent.

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