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Markets steady despite rising political tensions on two continents

By Hugh Wilson

Shares enjoying a steady day as traders shrug off Brexit and impeachment concerns

US stocks were mostly flat in morning trading as investors brushed off any potential economic ramifications of the likely vote to impeach President Trump.

The vote in the House of Representatives, due Wednesday afternoon, was not troubling Wall Street, with the Dow Jones up 0.11 per cent at 10am EST.

US yields were also steady, with traders confident that, with Trump unlikely to be convicted by the Senate, the process was unlikely to change policy.

The FTSE 100 also remained largely flat despite the rising political tensions surrounding Brexit. Boris Johnson’s determination to set a hard Brexit deadline of December 2020 had initially spooked markets, but the sentiment was balanced on Wednesday by figures showing that UK inflation remains at a three-year low. The FTSE 100 was up slightly at 7,540.75 at day’s end, a 0.21 per cent rise.

The German DAX fell by 0.49 per cent at close after European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament that the timetable to strike a deal between the UK and EU was “extremely challenging”. But the gloom was offset by stronger-than-expected German business morale in December.

Brexit anxiety could be seen in the currency markets, with the pound down against a list of currencies, including the dollar (-3.9 per cent at 3pm GMT) and euro (-2.1 per cent).

Cryptocurrencies enjoyed a positive day, with both Bitcoin and Ethereum trading up against the dollar in mid afternoon (GMT) trading. Bitcoin was ahead 3.2 per cent at one stage.

FURTHER READING: New Conservative Brexit pledge dampens excitement

FURTHER READING: Trump impeachment moves to public phase

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