Pound volatile at start of hectic Brexit week

Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to get the necessary revisions to get her Brexit deal through parliament this week

The British pound see-sawed Monday as traders jockeyed for position on the eve of another critical parliamentary vote for Prime Minister Theresa May.

Meanwhile, in New York, US stocks snapped a five-day losing streak, despite a sharp decline early in the session for Boeing following Sunday's deadly crash involving one of its a top-selling passenger jets.

The British currency kicked off the trading cycle in Asia by tanking to its lowest level since February 19 at $1.2949, but then bounced back in the European day -- with analysts trying to guess where it may head next.

As British MPs prepare to vote again on a Brexit divorce deal on Tuesday, the prime minister appears to have little to show for her recent efforts, prompting warnings of another humiliating defeat.

"We are 24-hours away from May's supposed 'meaningful' Brexit vote and the rumor is that (she) could lose this vote by a wider margin than the last one," said Oanda analyst Dean Popplewell. "As expected, sterling remains volatile".

May was expected on Monday to travel to Strasbourg in a last bid to win a breakthrough deal.

European markets notched gains, but in Asia, bourses were mixed as bargain-buying in the wake of last week's sharp losses was offset by Friday's weak US February jobs report and ongoing concerns about the global economy.

Elsewhere, on Wall Street shares in Boeing fell 5.3 percent for the day, paring earlier losses of more than 12 percent that threatened to wipe out tens of billions of the company's market value.

- Soothing words from Powell -

Two of the company's highly popular 737 MAX 8 jets have crashed in five months, including a fatal accident in Ethiopia on Sunday.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average, in which Boeing's stock is heavily weighted, rose 0.8, erasing steep losses from earlier in the day, while the S&P and Nasdaq both rose even higher.

Investors were comforted by Sunday's broadcast remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who reiterated that the central bank would be "patient" before raising interest rates again.

"He confirmed everything we knew: patience, confidence in the economy and the labor market, the Fed's independence," Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services told AFP.

"But above all he gave the impression of stability, which is an extremely reassuring position at the head of a body as important as the Fed."

Last year, President Donald Trump angrily and very publicly denounced the Fed's "crazy" interest rate hikes, breaking with traditional reserve from presidents toward the world's most powerful central bank.

iPhone maker Apple soared 3.5 percent following an upgrade from analysts at Bank of America.

The Commerce Department meanwhile reported US retail sales had recovered slightly after a dismal December, pointing to slower growth at least in the first quarter of this year.

- Key figures at 2100 GMT -

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3149 from $1.3015 at 2200 GMT on Friday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.53 pence from 86.30 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1248 from $1.1235

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.20 yen from 111.17 yen

New York - UP 0.8 percent at 25,650.88 (close)

New York - UP 1.5 percent at 2,783.30 (close)

New York - UP 2.0 percent at 7,558.06 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,130.62 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 11,543.48 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 5,265.96 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,304.44 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 21,125.09 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 28,503.30 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.9 percent at 3,026.99 (close)

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 84 cents at $66.58 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 72 cents at $56.79

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