LONDON (Reuters) - World markets have run into sand on Thursday, with sterling dropping about a half a cent after Northern Ireland’s DUP said it couldn’t yet support a Brexit deal that’s been thrashed out by UK and European Union negotiators before today’s EU summit. The text of the Brexit deal appeared to be ready to present to the summit before the DUP statement.
Without DUP backing, UK PM Boris Johnson will struggle to get any agreement through parliament, which is due to sit on Saturday after the two-day summit. If no deal is passed, he’s legally bound to seek an extension of the Oct. 31 deadline until January – one reason the pound’s losses from five-month highs of $1.2877 on Wednesday have been limited.
The uncertainty surrounding the last-gasp Brexit talks and news of an unexpected drop in U.S. retail sales last month have stalled world stock markets, with MSCI’s all-country index unchanged first thing.
Asian markets ticked lower and euro zone and UK stocks fell about 0.2% at the open. S&P 500 futures were also flat, as an upbeat start of the third-quarter earnings season helped offset some of the macro and political issues. Netflix stock jumped almost 10% late Wednesday after its results were released, although IBM missed revenue forecasts and its shares dropped 5%.
Emerging-market stocks scored their longest winning streak since April on Thursday, although it looked like another choppy day for Turkish assets. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was due to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the situation in Syria. The U.S. officials are hoping to convince Erdogan to declare a ceasefire, but Erdogan says that will never happen.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he thought Pence and Erdogan would have a "successful meeting" with Erdogan, adding that if they did not, U.S. sanctions and tariffs "will be devastating to Turkey's economy."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday the sanctions included the entire ministries of energy and defense and could be broadened. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives also plan to introduce sanctions legislation.
On the European corporate front, telecoms equipment maker Ericsson posted quarterly core earnings far ahead of market expectations and lifted its 2020 sales target, citing a stronger market and currency effects. Its shares opened up 6%. Telia posted third-quarter core earnings just above expectations and repeated its forecast for 2019.
Nestle announced a new share-buyback programme of up to 20 billion Swiss francs and a revamp of its struggling water business after organic sales growth slowed to 3.7% in the third quarter. Traders said the size of the buyback was underwhelming.
Growth also slowed for Pernod Ricard, which is being targeted by activist investor Elliott. The French spirits maker posted a 1.3% rise in first-quarter underlying sales, reflecting slower growth rates in China and India.
The numbers fell short of expectations and shares opened down 2%. Traders said Pernod’s comments on China may hurt Salvatore Ferragamo and Diageo.
Unilever reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales, blaming softer demand in India and a slowdown in China, two of its biggest emerging markets.
— A look at the day ahead from EMEA markets editor Mike Dolan. The views expressed are his own —