October 16, 2019 / 3:23 PM / 3 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks little changed on data, earnings; pound choppy

    * Brexit negotiations resume in Brussels
    * Pound volatile around Brexit talks
    * Wall Street little changed

 (Updates to open of U.S. markets, changes dateline; previous
    By Chuck Mikolajczak
    NEW YORK, Oct 16 (Reuters) - A gauge of world stock markets
was little changed on Wednesday on the heels of U.S. data that
raised concerns about a slowing economy, while sterling was
volatile as negotiations on a Brexit deal continued. 
    On Wall Street, stocks edged lower after monthly retail
sales data for September showed a decline for the first time in
seven month, stoking concerns softness in the manufacturing
sector was starting to affect the broader economy.
    "The retail sales figures were pretty disappointing across
the board," said Benjamin Jeffery, a rates strategist at BMO
Capital Markets in New York.
    Data later in the session showed business inventories were
unexpectedly flat in August, which suggested inventory
investment could also drag on third-quarter economic growth. 
    Concerns about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China
also weighed. The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday
passed legislation related to pro-democracy protests in Hong
Kong, prompting China to warn in response that bilateral
relations would be damaged if the measures became law.

    Losses were offset by a solid start to earnings season. Bank
of America shares rose 2.42% following its quarterly
    Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to show a
decline of 3% for the quarter, according to Refinitiv data, down
from 5.1% growth expected at the start of the year. 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.6 points, or
0.03%, to 27,017.2, the S&P 500 gained 0.45 points, or
0.02%, to 2,996.13 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 8.37
points, or 0.1%, to 8,140.34.
    Sterling was was volatile as negotiators worked to
clinch a last-minute deal for Britain's exit from the European
Union before an EU summit on Thursday. European
Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday it should be
known in seven or eight hours when Brexit could happen and in
theory, a deal could be accepted on Thursday.
    The pound had strengthened by over 5% over the past five
sessions as investors rushed to reprice the prospect of a
last-minute Brexit deal before the Oct. 31 deadline.    
    Sterling was last at $1.2796, up 0.08% on the day. 
    The dollar index, tracking it against six major
peers, fell 0.1%, with the euro up 0.15% to $1.1047.   
    European stocks were modestly lower as they contended with
the Brexit talks and the dawn of earnings season, holding within
a tight range on the session. 
    Companies listed on the STOXX 600 index are now
expected to report a decline in third-quarter earnings of as
much as 3.7%, worse than the 3% expected a week ago, according
to Refinitiv data through Tuesday.
    In commodities, oil lost ground on concerns demand could be
hurt by a slower economy, along with forecasts of a further
climb in U.S. inventories.
    U.S. crude rose 1.04% to $53.36 per barrel and Brent
 was last at $59.24, up 0.85% on the day.
    In emerging markets, Turkey's Halkbank saw its
shares drop after U.S. prosecutors charged the state-owned
lender with taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade
U.S. sanctions on Iran, which the company said were part of
sanctions leveled against Ankara over its military operation in
    Before Turkish markets opened, authorities banned short
selling on seven large Turkish bank stocks, including Halkbank.
Selling shares in the banks only to buy them later in the
session was also banned, authorities said.
    Overall emerging market stocks rose 0.35%. 

 (Additional reporting by Karen Brettell; Editing by Bernadette
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