Stocks edge up on Chinese growth plan, ahead of Brexit vote

Stocks edge up on Chinese growth plan, ahead of Brexit vote

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SINGAPORE (AP) — Global stock markets mostly rose Tuesday as after Chinese officials set out plans to support the world's second-biggest economy through a slowdown. Investors were also looking at corporate earnings as well as a vote later by the British parliament on a Brexit deal that has drawn strong opposition at home.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 6,860. Germany's DAX lost early gains to trade down 0.1 percent to 10,843 after new data showed the country's economy slowed last year to its weakest pace in five years. The CAC 40 in France was flat at 4,763. Wall Street was set for small gains on the open. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent and the broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.1 percent.

BREXIT VOTE: British lawmakers will begin to vote later Tuesday on a Brexit deal brokered between Prime Minister Theresa May and other European leaders. It will likely be rejected despite a last-minute push by May. May told lawmakers that rejecting the deal may lead to an overturning of the 2016 referendum, or Britain leaving the European Union on March 29 without any deal, which economists believe would batter the British economy. The impact for markets could depend on how big her defeat is, which could determine whether she resigns, and what happens after the vote.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "With a lack of an option B, the vote could narrow down the possibility to a hard-Brexit or a no-Brexit that could be the next step for the timed Brexit journey," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.

CHINA ECONOMY: Mainland Chinese company shares surged after senior economic leaders, briefing reporters Tuesday on the outcome of an annual policy-setting meeting last month, pledged to keep the monetary policy of the world's No. 2 economy flexible but stable and to support growth with improved access to financing for private and smaller enterprises. The assurances came as China weathers its worst slowdown since the global financial crisis amid a punishing tariffs dispute with the U.S. On Monday, China reported that its exports to the U.S. fell 3.5 percent from a year earlier in December, although its overall trade surplus with the United States surged last year. Markets initially slipped on worries that tariffs were putting a drag on the world's second-largest economy. But buying enthusiasm recovered on hopes that Chinese negotiators will be more keen to resolve a trade dispute with the United States. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is set to lead negotiators at talks in Washington later this month.

EARNINGS: Company reports for the fourth quarter are in focus, with mixed results on Tuesday. While UnitedHealth's earnings fell less than expected, JPMorgan's figures disappointed Wall Street forecasts. The bank's net earnings grew, but it suffered from the market jitters in December. JPMorgan's stock fell 2.2 percent in pre-market trading.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index, reopening after a market holiday, added 1 percent to 20,555.29. The Kospi in South Korea jumped 1.6 percent to 2,097.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rebounded 2 percent to 26,830.29. It closed 1.4 percent lower on Monday. The Shanghai Composite index was up 1.4 percent at 2,570.34 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 5,814.60. Shares rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, but fell in the Philippines.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 48 cents to $50.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.08 to settle at $50.51 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 59 cents to $59.58. It gave up $1.49 to $58.99 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 108.36 yen from 108.16 late Monday. The euro eased to $1.1422 from $1.1473 after the weak German economic data. The pound was steady around $1.2849 ahead of the Brexit vote.

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