British prime minister Boris Johnson faces an uphill task in getting his Brexit deal past lawmakers

New York (AFP) - Sterling advanced Friday on the eve of a crucial vote on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, while global stocks mostly fell following gloomy Chinese data.

The stage was set for the House of Commons, which is to meet for the first time on a Saturday in 37 years for a knife-edge vote on the new Brexit agreement between Britain and the EU.

The spotlight in Europe then turns towards Sunday evening, when markets in Asia will deliver their initial verdict on the outcome – and the potential for a chaotic Brexit on October 31.

IMF head Kristalina Georgieva urged caution while welcoming signs that Britain may reach a deal to exit the European Union.

“When there is a will, there is a deal… and my hope is that the will holds in all quarters,” Georgieva told reporters at the start of the International Monetary Fund annual meeting.

“The market (is) really gambling on tomorrow’s vote and has not priced in fully all scenarios – so expect big moves,” warned ETX Capital analyst Michael Baker.

Johnson has no majority among MPs, opposition parties have come out against the deal and even his parliamentary ally, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), says it cannot support the terms.

If the Commons rejects the deal, Johnson will be forced by law to ask the EU to delay Brexit, for what would be the third time. He has said he would rather “die in a ditch” than do so.

“Passage of the deal would pave the way to an orderly Brexit and potentially add significant octane to sterling’s surge,:” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions. “Failure to pass the deal though would extend sterling-negative uncertainty and deal a massive blow to the prime minister.”

- Boeing, Renault slide -

Stock markets mostly retreated after China reported growth of just 6.0 percent in the third quarter, its slowest rate in nearly three decades, due in part to the hit from a lengthy trade war with the United States.

Wall Street indices finished solidly lower, with the Dow slumping one percent following negative news around two companies in the index.

Boeing sank 6.8 percent after new documents in an investigation of the 737 MAX suggested company pilots knew in 2016 of problems with a system blamed for two deadly crashes that have grounded the plane.

Johnson & Johnson tumbled 6.2 percent as the health giant undertook a recall of “a single” lot of baby powder due to trace levels of asbestos contamination. The announcement came with the company facing litigation over a number of products, including talcum powder.

Earlier, Renault shares ended 11.5 percent down in Paris after warning that 2019 revenues would be three to four percent lower than last year – and blamed “less favorable than anticipated” conditions.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2989 from $1.2891 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.20 pence from 86.29 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1174 from $1.1125

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.35 yen from 108.66 yen

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.0 percent at 26,770.20 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,986.20 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.8 percent at 8,089.54 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,150.57 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 5,636.25 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,633.60 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,579.41 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 22,492.68 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 26,719.58 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 2,938.14 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $59.42 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $53.78 per barrel

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