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Sterling softens as more Brexit votes loom

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The pound extended losses on Tuesday after British MPs rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to rush his EU divorce deal through parliament, while EU leaders appeared likely to grant another delay in the tortured three-year process.

[NEW YORK] The pound extended losses on Tuesday after British MPs rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to rush his EU divorce deal through parliament, while EU leaders appeared likely to grant another delay in the tortured three-year process.

The vote upended Mr Johnson's pledged timetable for securing Britain's exit from the European Union by next week. Moments earlier, however, lawmakers had endorsed the deal in principle which Mr Johnson had negotiated with Brussels.

Global stocks meanwhile were mixed. Investors were cheered by growing expectations that Washington and Beijing will seal a partial trade deal next month. But the latest batch of corporate results were uneven, sending Wall Street lower.

Sterling's modest decline came a day after it hit a five-month peak at US$1.3013, and after parliament forced Mr Johnson to request another extension to Britain's scheduled exit from the European Union.

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The pound switched hands at US$1.2880 after markets closed in New York, down from US$1.2960 24 hours earlier.

Asian and European bourses posted gains. But New York's three major indices all fell into the red later in the day.

"With earnings continuing to come out, we're seeing additional weakness," said Sam Stovall of CFRA Research, who noted that stocks had risen in the period leading into earnings season.

Technology companies with especially big drops included Netflix, which fell 4.1 per cent and Facebook, which shed 3.9 per cent after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she and 46 other attorneys general are now pursuing an antitrust probe of the company.

Meanwhile, Mr Stovall said he was broadly encouraged by the Brexit developments "because we're coming to some sort of conclusion."

On Monday, US President Donald Trump had reinforced hopes he and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will be able to put pen to paper on a mini pact, saying China had already started promised purchases of farm goods, and that the first part of a wider commitment was almost complete.

AFP