U.S. stocks edge up on defense, healthcare gains; pound firms 2 New York

Thursday 1440/5/11 - 2019/01/17
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Some investors took heart from Beijing's confirmation that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will head to the United States on Jan. 30 for more negotiations with Washington. Recent talks to resolve a protracted trade battle between the U.S. and China brought little progress.
Adding to concerns was legislation introduced by U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that would ban the sale of U.S. chips or other components to Huawei or other Chinese telecommunications equipment makers that violate U.S. sanctions or export control laws.
That came shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from U.S. businesses.
European banks tumbled after France's Societe Generale issued a profit warning, and carmakers skidded after U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said he thought President Donald Trump was "inclined" to impose tariffs on European cars.
Sterling firmed toward a two-month high against the dollar. It was last trading up 0.7 percent at $1.297.
As expected, British Prime Minister May narrowly won a confidence vote late Wednesday and invited other party leaders for talks to try to break the impasse on a Brexit agreement.
An outline for a Brexit Plan B https://reut.rs/2TVKYfe is due by next Monday and markets are currently assuming that with no easy way forward for May she will have to extend the date of Britain's exit from the European Union past the scheduled March 29.
U.S. Treasury yields ticked up as better-than-expected economic data offset the trade tensions between China and the United States, holding down safe-haven bids for U.S. government debt.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.7325 percent, compared with 2.729 percent late on Wednesday.
Oil prices fell after U.S. crude production neared an unprecedented 12 million barrels per day. Brent crude was last down $0.01 at $61.31 a barrel. U.S. crude was last down $0.27, or 0.52 percent, at $52.04 per barrel.
22:38 LOCAL TIME 19:38 GMT