European stock indices moved higher on Monday after a positive day in Asia. But the pound fell against the dollar and the euro after British Prime Minister Theresa May finally announced when she would officially set Brexit in motion and suggested she was going for a clean break.
PM May will invoke Article 50 by the end of March, she announced at the annual conference of her Conservative Party in Birmingham, England. That will trigger a two-year process for negotiating the U.K.'s retreat. Her comments also suggested May, who didn't want to leave the EU in the first place, was vying for a "harder" Brexit. That is seen as more damaging to the U.K. economy than a partial divorce in which the U.K. could potentially keep access to the single market in return for accepting certain obligations including the free movement of people from the EU.
The pound was recently down 0.93% against the dollar at $1.2852 and the euro was up 0.96% against the pound, with one euro recently buying £0.8744.
In London the FTSE 100 was up 0.48% at 6,932.25 and in Paris the Cac 40 was up 0.07% at 4,451.43. The German exchange is closed today for a public holiday. Deustche Bank (DB - Get Report) , whose travails have recently set the tone for global equities markets, had risen 14% in New York on Friday on hopes it is close to a deal with the Department of Justice to cut the size of the $14 billion fine it threatened to slap on the lender for misselling mortgage-backed securities before the credit crisis.
U.S. futures were recently down, with the Dow Jones mini down 0.03% and the S&P 500 mini down 0.06%.
Fund manager Henderson Global Investors was up 17% after it said it will merge with Janus Capital Group (JNS) to create Janus Henderson Global Investors. The combination would have more than $320 billion of assets under management and a combined market capitalization of about $6 billion. The all-stock deal would put 57% of the stock in the hands of Henderson shareholders, and 43% in the hands of Janus' owners. The entity would be listed in New York and Sydney but wouldn't have a listing in London.
SVG Capital nudged higher after the private equity investor said up to three suitors, including Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board had made or were interested in making proposals about takeovers, the purchase of assets, or both. They are vying with original suitor HarbourVest, whose £1.02 billion ($1.34 billion) offer SVG rejected on Sept. 16.
AstraZeneca (AZN - Get Report) was up 1% after news Botox-maker Allergan (AGN - Get Report) will pay AstraZeneca $250 million upfront for an exclusive, worldwide licence to develop and commercialize MEDI2070, which is in clinical trials to treat Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestines.
Allergan may then make additional payments of up to $1.27 billion dependent the drug's development.
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Later this morning in Europe investors will be looking for the U.K. purchasing managers' indices from IHS Markit. The euro zone index rose to a three-month high of 52.6 in September from 51.7 in August, as announced in a "flash" report, Markit confirmed this morning. The U.K. gauge is seen likely to slip to 52.1 from 53.3. Anything over 50 signifies economic expansion.
West Texas intermediate was recently down 0.48% at $48.01 a barrel.