Brexit Deal Hangs In The Balance, AstraZeneca Announces $39bn Deal

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Yesterday evening, prospects of a Brexit trade deal increased as talks were extended beyond a Sunday deadline, with both sides agreeing to “go the extra mile” to overcome substantial differences in position. The main sticking point is the need to satisfy European Union demands for fair business competition, according to the FT. Last week, the FTSE 100 was flat as investors waited for movement in negotiations. Although a fall in the value of sterling helped to sustain the index, whose constituent companies generate 70% of their earnings overseas. The more domestically focused FTSE 250 fell back by 2.8%. The extension to talks has however boosted Sterling (FXB) which is trading up 1.3% and 1% against the dollar (UDN) and euro (FXE) respectively.

The other big piece of news over the weekend was AstraZeneca’s (AZN) planned acquisition of US biotechnology firm Alexion for $39bn. AstraZeneca is a British and Swedish drugmaker, and Alexion adds more immunology capabilities to its stable. Alexion has been a target of activist hedge fund Elliot Management in 2020, which urged the company to sell itself due to what it argued were mistakes made by management.

Real estate, financial sectors fall back as recovery stalls

In the US last week, the S&P 500’s real estate, financials and consumer discretionary sectors fell significantly, as economic data showed that the country’s economic recovery appears to be stalling. All three major US stock indices posted losses last week, ranging from -0.6% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to -1% for the S&P. In a note on Friday, analysts at financial advice firm Edward Jones noted that what matters more for long-term investors at present is the prospect of the economy entering a “new multiyear expansionary cycle that extends the bull market into the future.” The analysts noted several reasons for optimism, including corporate profit forecasts, but highlighted multiple signs of market complacency. Those include company valuations expanding over the past two months, and a substantial gap between the current economic reality and asset prices.

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