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US stocks rise, pound falls as markets weigh impeachment, trade

John BIERS
US stocks rallied Wednesay after President Trump spoke more optimistically about China trade talks

Wall Street stocks rallied Wednesday following upbeat comments from Donald Trump on China trade talks, while US investors largely shrugged off the just-announced impeachment investigation of the US president.

Among other markets, the British pound retreated on Brexit uncertainty, while oil prices fell after a report showed higher US oil inventories.

Trump's strident remarks on China at the United Nations had been among the factors that had weighed on US stocks on Tuesday.

But on Wednesday, Trump said a deal with China could come sooner than expected, lifting US indices, including the Nasdaq, which won more than one percent.

Investors appeared to take a wait-and-see view of the Democrats' move to launch an impeachment probe of Trump in the House of Representatives based on his interactions with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

A memorandum of a call released by the White House showed Trump had urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate rival Joe Biden.

Leading Republicans dismissed the matter but Democrats called it a smoking gun.

Investors' ho-hum response to the impeachment developments "suggests that the market isn't going to allow itself to get too worked about the inquiry at this stage of matters when the headlines are heavy but the tradable facts of import are light," analyst Patrick O'Hare wrote at Briefing.com.

- Pound pulls back -

The pound meanwhile dropped as British MPs returned to parliament one day after a momentous Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament ahead of Brexit was unlawful.

Johnson challenged opposition MPs to call a confidence vote in his government, in a defiant response to the court decision.

The pound had rallied handsomely on Tuesday on the belief that the odds of a no-deal Brexit had fallen. But the British currency pulled back on Wednesday.

Many analysts expect more volatility.

"The fate of the British Pound largely depends on the Brexit outcome but more than three years since the referendum to leave the EU, the Brexit process is in deadlock and the future is mired in confusion and political upheaval," said Joseph Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

Among individual companies, Dow member Nike surged 4.2 percent after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profits on strong direct sales and higher revenues from China.

Philip Morris International rose 5.2 percent as it and Altria called off a potential $200 billion merger following a sudden surge in worries about vaping. Altria, which holds a major stake in e-cigarette company Juul, shed 0.4 percent.

- Key figures around 2050 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 26,970.71 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.6 percent at 2,984.87 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.1 percent at 8,077.38 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,289.99 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.6 percent at 12,234.18 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 5,583.80 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,513.03 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 22,020.15 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.3 percent at 25,945.35 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 2,955.433 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0944 from $1.1020

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2355 from $1.2487

Euro/pound: UP at 88.56 from 88.25 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.77 from 107.07

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.1 percent at $62.39 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $56.49 per barrel

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