LONDON – European stocks closed mixed after a light trading session on Thursday, as traders were bullish on a Brexit trade deal being struck.
The UK FTSE 100 closed around 0.1% after a shortened session during the holidays, while the French CAC lost nearly 0.1% and the Spanish market IBEX ended the day up 0.5% . The German and Italian markets are closed for Christmas Eve.
British bank stocks were among the best performers, with traders betting a deal between the UK and the EU would be reached soon, with Lloyds up 4%, Barclays up 1.8% and Natwest up 1.2%.
Britain and the European Union are said to be set to conclude a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday. It comes after months of political wrangling over key sticking points such as fishing.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a post-Brexit trade deal was expected on Thursday after a “last minute hitch” delayed an announcement.
Deadlines remain unclear, with Reuters at noon London time, citing officials from the EU and the UK, saying the deal could still be “several hours away.” Press conferences scheduled for Thursday morning have been delayed as the two sides finalized the “short text” of a fishing rights deal, Coveney said.
The pound sterling climbed about 0.7% against the dollar, trading at $ 1.3582. The euro hovered above the flat line at $ 1.2187.
In Asia, stocks were mostly higher as investors watched the latest Brexit developments. The largest MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan rose 0.6%.
On Wall Street, stock futures rose before the last trading day of the shortened week.
President Donald Trump vetoed a sweeping defense bill on Wednesday, shattering the Republican-led Senate. The move came after he called the long-delayed $ 900 billion coronavirus relief program an inappropriate “shame.”