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European stocks mixed amid hopes for Brexit trade deal; UK banks jump

LONDON — European stocks traded mixed in a light trading session Thursday as traders grew optimistic a Brexit trade deal would be reached.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gave up early gains to fall around 0.2% while France’s CAC added nearly 0.1%. The German and Italian markets are closed for Christmas Eve.

British bank shares were some of the top performers as traders bet a deal would be agreed soon, with Lloyds climbing 4.6%, Barclays rising 2.3% and Natwest up 1.6%.

Britain and the European Union are said to be on the cusp of striking a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday. It comes after months of political wrangling over key sticking points such as fisheries.

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said a post-Brexit trade deal was expected Thursday, after a “last-minute hitch” delayed an announcement.

Coveney told RTE radio it would be an “enormous relief” when the deal is finally announced. Press conferences originally slated for early Thursday were delayed as both sides finalized the “small text” of an agreement on fishing rights, he said.

Sterling climbed about 0.8% versus the dollar, trading at around $1.36. The euro was up 0.1% at $1.22.

In Asia, stocks were mostly higher as investors watched the latest Brexit developments. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6%.

On Wall Street, stock futures rose ahead of the final trading day of the holiday-shortened week.

President Donald Trump vetoed a sweeping defense bill Wednesday, breaking the Republican-led Senate. The move came after he called Congress’ long-delayed $900 billion coronavirus relief package an unsuitable “disgrace.”


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