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US: Stocks rise, pound falls as markets weigh impeachment, trade

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Wall Street stocks rallied on Wednesday following upbeat comments from Donald Trump on China trade talks, while US investors largely shrugged off the just-announced impeachment investigation of the US president.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rallied on Wednesday following upbeat comments from Donald Trump on China trade talks, while US investors largely shrugged off the just-announced impeachment investigation of the US president.

Among other markets, the British pound retreated on Brexit uncertainty, while oil prices fell after a report showed higher US oil inventories.

Mr Trump's strident remarks on China at the United Nations had been among the factors that had weighed on US stocks on Tuesday.

But on Wednesday, Mr Trump said a deal with China could come sooner than expected, lifting US indices, including the Nasdaq, which won more than one per cent.

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Investors appeared to take a wait-and-see view of the Democrats' move to launch an impeachment probe of Mr Trump in the House of Representatives based on his interactions with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

A memorandum of a call released by the White House showed Mr Trump had urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate rival Joe Biden.

Leading Republicans dismissed the matter but Democrats called it a smoking gun.

Investors' ho-hum response to the impeachment developments "suggests that the market isn't going to allow itself to get too worked about the inquiry at this stage of matters when the headlines are heavy but the tradable facts of import are light," analyst Patrick O'Hare wrote at Briefing.com.

POUND PULLS BACKĀ 

The pound meanwhile dropped as British MPs returned to parliament one day after a momentous Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament ahead of Brexit was unlawful.

Mr Johnson challenged opposition MPs to call a confidence vote in his government, in a defiant response to the court decision.

The pound had rallied handsomely on Tuesday on the belief that the odds of a no-deal Brexit had fallen. But the British currency pulled back on Wednesday.

Many analysts expect more volatility.

"The fate of the British Pound largely depends on the Brexit outcome but more than three years since the referendum to leave the EU, the Brexit process is in deadlock and the future is mired in confusion and political upheaval," said Joseph Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

Among individual companies, Dow member Nike surged 4.2 per cent after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profits on strong direct sales and higher revenues from China.

Philip Morris International rose 5.2 per cent as it and Altria called off a potential US$200 billion merger following a sudden surge in worries about vaping. Altria, which holds a major stake in e-cigarette company Juul, shed 0.4 per cent.

AFP