European markets open lower despite positive signals from Asia

Though Asian markets were sending positive signals this morning after President Trump ended the longest government shutdown in US history over the weekend, European indexes started the week trending down.

Though Asian markets were sending positive signals this morning after President Trump ended the longest government shutdown in US history over the weekend, European indexes started the week trending down. Negative news from big industrials such Alstom and Siemens weighed on European indices and the FTSE wasn’t helped by the upcoming Brexit vote Tuesday. Among the top London risers however was Russian steel producer Evraz, up over 3%, after the US decided to lift sanctions on another Russian metals producer Rusal.

The US government shutdown was starting to cause serious concerns for some US businesses, particularly those that depend on US government contracts. It also blocked any planned IPOs as one of the agencies paralyzed by the closure was trading regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC and other agencies now have three frantic weeks to catch up on lost time and to prepare to go into hibernation again when the three week respite granted by Trump expires.

Tech giant results to dominate US earnings this week

Wall Street is gearing up for the busiest reporting week of the quarter with 13 out of 30 companies in the DJIA index due to present their earnings. The limelight will be on the big ones: Facebook after it announced plans to integrate its Messenger with Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon where founder Jeff Bezos’s private life has made more headlines recently than his business decisions, and Apple with its struggles to keep iPhone sales in China on the rise. Boeing, McDonalds, General Electric and Pfizer’s results will also be spread through the week. The numbers are generally expected to reflect the economic background in the country, which is at its strongest in years but threatening to slow down over the coming months.  

Brexit vote weighs on sterling

After a few relatively calm days Brexit is back centre stage ahead of a second parliamentary vote Tuesday. Although the PM will argue her best to the contrary, nothing much seems to have changed in the content of her Brexit proposal or in the political mood over the last few days other than calls to postpone the March 29 deadline. In Scotland concerns over the unresolved state of Brexit seem to have reached fever pitch as it called for a second referendum hoping to remain in the EU. The pound is continuing to be whipped by Brexit in both directions with the currency losing ground against both the dollar and euro this morning.

China slowdown remains in focus

In Asia, Chinese markets have one more week to go before the country grinds to a halt during China’s New Year. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges will be closed for a week starting February 4. It will also grant investors temporary relief from concerns over the state of the country’s economy. Numbers Monday again confirmed that the local economy is continuing to slow down as industrial profits dropped for a second month in a row.

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