For once, Brexit was not hogging the headlines

London (AFP) - The eurozone’s main stock markets found higher ground Monday in subdued deals, with many investors away for the Easter holiday break.

The European single currency bobbed back above $1.31, while the pound also edged higher – in turn holding back London’s share market.

“European equity markets are subdued … on the back of a strong finish on Friday,” said analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK. “It seems like investors are taking a breather.”

Sentiment was partly supported by comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said he was “hopeful we’re getting close to the final round of concluding issues” in trade talks with China.

The remarks were picked up as another positive sign that the trade war between the world’s top two economies, which helped hammer global markets last year, could be nearing an end.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is hopeful for success in the trade talks with China

“Steven Mnuchin issued a positive statement about US-China trade talks over the weekend, and he claimed the negotiations are ‘close to the final round’ – and that is adding to global feel good factor,” Madden added.

- ‘Bogged down’ -

Investors set aside last week’s concerns about a possible new trade war between the US and the European Union after President Donald Trump threatened to hit the bloc with tariffs over subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.

They were given a boost on Monday when the EU member countries gave the final green light to begin new trade talks with the US.

Wall Street was a touch lower in the late New York morning.

Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic had pushed higher on Friday after major US banks JP Morgan and Wells Fargo reported earnings ahead of analysts’ expectations.

On Monday, however, lacklustre earnings from Goldman Sachs reminded investors that surprises can also be on the downside, and stock in the bank promptly fell by more than three percent.

“US stocks are lower as the financial sector is being bogged down by Dow member Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as their mixed quarterly results are facing scrutiny as earnings season continues to heat up,” said Charles Schwab analysts.

Asia traded mixed on Monday, though investors remain upbeat thanks to a healthy start to the US earnings season and hopes for China-US trade talks.

- Brexit-free week -

Dealers noted that, for once, Brexit was not hogging the headlines this week due to Britain’s parliament being shut for the Easter holiday until April 23.

Britain’s Conservative government will resume talks with the main opposition Labour party next week on how to resolve the deadlock over Brexit, a senior minister said Sunday.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s effective deputy, David Lidington, said they wanted to be able to “take stock” of any progress when parliament returns.

“With House of Commons in recess for the Easter break, the coming week is unlikely to be dominated by Brexit, thankfully, to the same extent as weeks gone by – with the focus for the UK markets shifting to a series of economic releases,” said XTB analyst David Cheetham.

British employment data is due Tuesday, followed by inflation numbers on Wednesday and retail sales figures on Thursday.

- Key figures around 1545 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,436.87 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,020.28 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,508.73 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,450.46

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 26,348.55

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3104 from $1.3074 at 2100 GMT on Friday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.28 pence from 86.40 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1304 from $1.1299

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.01 yen from 112.02 yen

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 22,169.11 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 29,810.72 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,177.79 (close)

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 52 cents at $71.03 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 78 cents at $63.11