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Global markets: Pound turns around, Samsung sinks

Oct 13 2016 07:16

New York - The British pound reversed its 10-day fall on Wednesday on easing worries over a hard Brexit, while Samsung's shares tumbled again after it slashed its earnings outlook due to the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

Asian and European markets were broadly lower for the day, but US stocks were steady, taking in stride the release of the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting which supported expectations of an interest rate hike coming in December.

The pound's possible bottoming out came after a 6% plunge since the beginning of the month on worries that the European Union would play extremely tough with Britain after it voted to pull out of the 28-nation bloc.

Wednesday's turnaround was helped by a move by British Prime Minister Theresa May to permit parliament to scrutinise her plan for Brexit before she begins the formal process to exit the EU.

"Theresa May's decision last night to allow the House of Commons a debate on the government's Brexit plans... have allayed some of the concerns about a 'hard Brexit'," said ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

"While some may hope that this means no Brexit, in reality it will mean the difference between a hard or soft exit. If Parliament puts up a good fight sterling will rally," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

Meanwhile Samsung's woes over the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone mounted. A day after the South Korea giant killed production of the phone, it slashed its latest quarterly profit estimate by one third, to 5.2 trillion won ($4.6bn), compared with the 7.8 trillion won it announced just last week.

The earnings revelation came after close of trade on Wednesday which saw Samsung's share price fall 0.7%, following an 8% plunge the prior day. Seoul's KOSPI shares index edged up 0.1%.

That continued to be good news for Apple, which stands to gain sales as Samsung weighs how to replace the Galaxy Note and win back market share.

Apple shares added 0.9% on Wednesday and are up around 10% since the problem of the Galaxy Note batteries came to light.

Fed hints December hike

The minutes to the Federal Reserve's September meeting had no effect on markets, confirming that the US central bank was split over a rate increase on that occasion but expects one would be appropriate "relatively soon".

"The Committee is eager to hike the rates once before the year ends," said IHS Markit in a client note.

"Considering that the November meeting is only a week before the US presidential election, and as long as domestic economic data show further progress and international risks remain subdued, December is the most likely timing for the next hike."

In foreign exchange, the US dollar continued its rise, hitting $1.1007 against the euro, while the yen fell one percent to ¥104.72.

The South African rand struck a one-month low of R14.49/$ before rebounding slightly to R14.24 amid worries over the planned prosecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

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