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The pound has been weighed down by Brexit. Now it’s getting some relief

Happy Thursday. A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.

The pound is climbing on news that the United Kingdom has reached a new agreement with the European Union to leave the bloc before the October 31 Brexit deadline.

The currency rallied on Thursday morning to just below $1.30, its highest level since May. It’s now just below $1.29.

What’s next: Time for everyone to pore over the details. Johnson still needs EU leaders to sign off on the deal on Thursday, and an extraordinary session of the UK Parliament is scheduled for Saturday.

Analysts believe the currency could jump as high as $1.35 or even $1.40 if Johnson wins support for a deal that avoids a chaotic Brexit that would rupture trade and economic ties. But potential stumbling blocks remain. A small political party from Northern Ireland is maintaining its opposition to the deal, raising doubts that it can successfully get through Parliament.

“Volatility is very likely to remain extremely high because sterling is just reacting to the headlines as we have them,” Jane Foley, senior foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank, told me.

Remember: The Brexit process has wreaked havoc on the pound, one of the most traded currencies in the world. Before the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, it was worth nearly $1.50. The value of the currency dropped sharply following the referendum and spent most of the next three years below $1.35.

For investors, however, uncertainty remains.

“There’s a lot of smart people out there in investment markets,” Justin Onuekwusi, a fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management, told me Thursday morning. “We don’t really know what’s going to happen.

Johnson needs a green light from the leaders of the other 27 EU member states to move forward. And former Prime Minister Theresa May failed three times to get UK lawmakers to approve her deal.

“Anyone hoping that the process will be straightforward now is kidding themselves,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, a currency broker. He predicts that Johnson will still need to ask for another delay to Brexit, which will be followed by an election.

GM and UAW have a deal to end month-long strike

Speaking of deals: Negotiators from General Motors and the United Auto Workers union have reached a tentative agreement to end a month-long strike by nearly 50,000 workers.

Details of the deal were not immediately available, my CNN Business colleagues Chris Isidore and Vanessa Yurkevich report. But the deal was confirmed by Terry Dittes, the UAW’s chief negotiator with GM, and by the automaker.

Work remains: The agreement needs the approval of the union leadership as well as rank-and-file union members at GM before it can take effect. UAW officials from across the country were already set to meet in Detroit on Thursday. That had been taken as a sign that the two sides were getting close.

It is not yet certain when employees will return to work. The union said it will be decided Thursday whether they should remain on strike until the rank-and-file ratification vote takes place. That could take a week or more to complete.

Investor insight: Investors liked the news. The strike has halted work at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities across nine states, and led to layoffs at other GM plants in Mexico and Canada that had to shut down because of supply chain disruptions.

GM shares have dropped more than 5% since the strike began in mid-September.

Netflix missed its subscriber expectations

Netflix added 6.8 million new subscribers in the third quarter — below the 7 million it had projected.

It’s the second quarter in a row that the streaming giant has missed its target, raising questions about whether the company has the momentum to fend off competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Disney and Apple, which are launching their own streaming services soon.

But unlike last quarter, investors aren’t panicking, and shares are up nearly 8% in premarket trading. That’s because Netflix added roughly 520,000 new subscribers in the US — a much rosier picture than earlier this year.

Up next

Ericsson and Morgan Stanley report earnings before US markets open. E*Trade will follow after the close.

Also today:

  • US housing starts and building permits for September arrive at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • That’s followed by US industrial production for September at 9:15 a.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: How much has Chinese economic growth slowed? Official GDP data for the third quarter will provide some clues.



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