Stocks rise as investors digest US politics, Brexit progress

Stock markets mostly rose on Monday as investors digested the U.S. Senate's passage of the tax bill and considered implications of the guilty plea by President Donald Trump's former U.S. national security adviser. European indexes were also helped by reported progress in Brexit talks.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.5 percent to 7,334 while France's CAC 40 gained 1.1 percent to 5,373. Germany's DAX jumped 1.4 percent to 13,043. Futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow futures rose 1 percent while S&P futures advanced 0.6 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Asian markets finished mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.5 percent to 22,707.16 while South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.1 percent to 2,501.67. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent to 29,138.28 but the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2 percent to 3,309.62. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent to 5,985.60. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed. Singapore stocks fell but the benchmark in Indonesia rose.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The reaction of investors is unpredictable in light of positive market moves ahead of the vote and suggestions that corporate tax cuts are to some extent already priced in," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said in a daily commentary. "While the reduction in tax rates is widely viewed as stimulatory, and therefore supportive of higher share prices, the stellar run and record levels of U.S. share indices have some fearing a "sell the fact" reaction.

U.S. WATCH: U.S. politics took central stage for Asian investors at the week's start. On early Saturday, Republicans rammed a nearly $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through the Senate, a sweeping revamp of the nation's tax code that would cut individual rates and slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent beginning in 2019. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and said he would cooperate with the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

BREXIT PROGRESS: European Union officials said they were close to getting much-needed progress in the Brexit talks. The EU wants to see progress in key divorce issues, the thorniest of which appears to be the future of a border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. If they find a preliminary deal today, the EU leaders will allow the talks to move on to the issue of future trade relations, an important aspect for businesses.

DATA WATCH: Investors are watching for a string of data releases due this week. China will report monthly trade data on Friday and Japan will issue its growth figures on Friday. Earlier in the day, data showed Japan's consumer confidence improved to 44.9 in November from 44.5 in October, the highest reading since September, 2013. U.S. payrolls data are also due on Friday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 62 cents to $57.74 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 96 cents on Friday. Brent, the international standard, lost 52 cents to $63.21 per barrel in London. It added $1.10 on Friday.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar rose to 112.89 yen from 112.13 yen while the euro weakened to $1.1863 from $1.1896.