A good day for stock markets

London (AFP) - A global stocks rally took root Monday fuelled by strong US jobs data, as signs that Britain may be headed towards a softer Brexit boosted the pound.

Asian and European equities were spurred higher, extending pre-weekend gains, as Friday’s solid jobs report reinforced confidence in the US economy and helped soothe trade war nerves.

“European stock markets are higher after a strong finish in Asia,” noted CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.

Wall Street then took up the baton, also posting gains at the New York opening bell.

Analysts at Charles Schwab credited the US jobs report with fanning “global economic optimism” allowing investors to take a welcome breather from festering trade war concerns which have dogged markets for months.

On Friday, Washington rolled out tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, sparking retaliatory measures from Beijing.

The British pound meanwhile rose Monday after shock news that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit minister David Davis has resigned.

Analysts said the news persuaded many investors that Britain could be heading towards a so-called “soft” Brexit.

Sterling rose above $1.33 to near its highest level in nearly one month.

- Softer Brexit? -

“Sterling has begun the new week in an upbeat mood with the recent steps towards a more ‘soft’ Brexit buoying the pound which has reached its highest level in almost a month against the US dollar,” said analyst David Cheetham at brokerage XTB.

Davis stepped down over the government’s agreed plan to retain strong economic ties with the European Union after leaving the bloc.

Cheetham added: “A soft Brexit refers to a less hardline approach to the UK-EU separation which would ultimately see the future relationship between the two parties more closely resemble the current arrangement.

“From a market perspective this is deemed favourable for the pound as it would see less disruption and uncertainty as far as the outlook for the UK economy is concerned.”

Davis’ resignation – along with one of his deputies – comes two days after the cabinet approved the plan in a bid to unblock negotiations with Brussels.

“The resignation of David Davis has helped encourage markets that we will see a softer approach to Brexit going forward,” agreed IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

Global markets had bounced higher on Friday after data showed the US economy created more than 200,000 jobs in June, beating expectations.

That was compounded by the fact that average hourly earnings growth remained sluggish, while the unemployment rate edged up, easing pressure on the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates.

- Key figures around 1330 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,637.89 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,515.80

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,390.13

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,456.09

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 24,528.30

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 percent at 22,052.18 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.3 percent at 28,688.50 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.5 percent at 2,815.11 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1775 from $1.1744 at 2030 GMT Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3346 from $1.3281

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.56 yen from 110.43 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 73 cents at $77.84 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 21 cents at $74.01