British banks are hoping for a Brexit deal

LONDON – European stocks closed after a slight trading session on Thursday as traders became bullish that a Brexit trade deal would be reached.

The UK FTSE 100 closed around 0.1% after a choppy session with shortened holidays, while the French CAC lost nearly 0.1% and the Spanish IBEX market ended the day 0.5%. The German and Italian markets are closed on Christmas Eve.

UK bank stocks were among the top performers as traders bet that a UK-EU deal will be struck soon. Lloyds was up 4%, Barclays was up 1.8% and Natwest was up 1.2%.

Britain and the European Union are said to be close to signing a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday. After months of political controversy, important sticking points such as fishing come about.

Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said a post-Brexit trade deal is expected Thursday after a “last-minute problem” delayed an announcement.

The timing is still unclear. Reuters quoted both EU and UK officials at lunchtime in London as saying the deal could still be “hours away”. The press conferences scheduled for early Thursday were postponed as both sides finalized the “little text” of an agreement on fishing rights, Coveney said.

The pound sterling was up 0.7% against the dollar to trade at $ 1.3582. The euro was above the flatline at USD 1.2187.

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

On Wall Street, stock futures rose ahead of the last trading day of the week with shortened holidays.

President Donald Trump vetoed a comprehensive defense bill on Wednesday and broke the Republican-led Senate. The move came after calling the long-belated $ 900 billion coronavirus aid package from Congress an unsuitable “disgrace”.

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