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What to Watch: Brexit vote countdown, stock selling resumes, Euronext's takeover bid

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK

Here are the top business, market and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe and abroad: 

Brexit vote countdown

UK prime minister Theresa May is making a last ditch effort on Monday to convince rebel lawmakers to back her Brexit divorce deal, warning them that Britain’s exit from the European Union is now in peril from politicians seeking to thwart it.

May will also set out new assurances from the EU that it does not aim to sever Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain under the deal’s most contentious term – a “backstop” requiring EU rules in the province until a better free trade plan emerges.

The future of the United Kingdom’s 29 March exit from the EU is deeply uncertain as parliament is likely to vote down May’s deal on Tuesday, opening up outcomes ranging from a disorderly divorce to reversing Brexit altogether.

May is set to make a speech in the leave-supporting city of Stoke-on-Trent in central England to say that lawmakers now seem more likely to block Brexit altogether than to allow the country to leave without a deal.

“There are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so,” May will say in her speech, according to advance extracts.

READ MORE: Lord Mayor of London warns Brexit is ‘disaster’ but City will recover


Stocks slump on weak Chinese data

The rally in European stock markets came to a screeching halt on Monday after the release of surprisingly weak trade data out of China. This caused investors to fret about slowing global growth and weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings results.

Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down by about 0.8% in morning trading, with the DAX (^GDAXI) in Germany and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in France slipping as well.

Luxury goods retailers, which rely on appetite for handbag and jewellery sales from China’s burgeoning middle class, bore the brunt of the selling.

LVMH (MC.PA), Hermes (RMS.PA) and Gucci owner Kering (KER.PA) were among the biggest fallers in Paris, while Moncler (MONC.MI) in Milan dropped 2% in morning trading. On average, one third of the luxury sector is exposed to Chinese demand.

Most Asian markets closed the day with losses on Monday, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (^HSI) leading the way down with a 1.4% drop.

Over in the US, stock futures were slumping. The S&P 500 (ES=F), Dow Jones industrial average (YM=F) and Nasdaq (NQ=F) were all down by roughly 1%.

However, the market mood could change as US earnings season kicks offQuarterly results from Citigroup (C) come out on Monday, followed by JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) later in the week.

Euronext: Takeover time

Pan-European stock market operator Euronext (ENX.PA) officially launched its all-cash bid for Oslo Bors, worth 6.24bn Norwegian crowns, which is equivalent to £569m or $729m. The bid came just hours after the Norwegian stock market operator’s board said it had found alternative bidders.

Euronext had unveiled its plan to launch an offer for Oslo Bors in late December and said shareholders representing a little more than 50% of Oslo Bors’ shares had already pre-committed to sell at the price offered.

In reaction to the move by Euronext, Oslo Bors said it would search for other potential buyers and the board told shareholders to wait for its advice before making any commitment.

“The board is working to find the best solution for shareholders and the Norwegian capital market,” Oslo Bors spokesman Per Eikrem said on Monday. “We don’t yet know which offer may ultimately be the best. We’re trying to find that out now,” he added.

The Paris-listed stock market operator already owns 5.1% in Oslo Bors. The offer is set to expire on 11 February.

With files from Reuters