Stock markets ‘checked out’ ahead of Easter break

A man walks past the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013. — Reuters pic
A man walks past the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 18 — Stock markets were mixed today as investors wound down their positions before the Easter break, with positivity surrounding China-US trade talks and healthy Chinese growth failing to fire much buying activity.

After Wall Street opened slightly higher, analyst Patrick O’Hare said the market was “jogging in place” before the long weekend.

“It’s hard to tell if the market is just tired after a massive rally, checked out in front of an extended holiday weekend, or genuinely bothered by concerns regarding the economic outlook,” O’Hare said.

The euro meanwhile slid versus the dollar as data showed business growth in the eurozone had hit the lowest level since 2014 on German sluggishness and stagnation in France.

The single currency’s drop helped support eurozone exporters, pushing up overall stock market values in the region.

At around 1340 GMT, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index had gained 0.5 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.4 per cent from Wednesday’s closing levels.

Outside the eurozone, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 0.2 per cent, despite stronger-than-expected British retail sales figures.

Beset by looming political risks such as Brexit and weaker global growth, the eurozone is struggling to keep the economy growing at a healthy pace, a survey from data firm IHS Markit showed.

“Traders are mindful of the Easter break and we might see some trimming their positions ahead of the long weekend,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK. 

US-China talks

Focus also remained on China-US trade talks after it was reported that President Donald Trump’s key negotiator Robert Lighthizer is preparing to visit Beijing at the end of the month, hoping to end the long-running tariffs spat.

The Wall Street Journal story was followed by Trump saying he was optimistic the talks would be “successful”, and telling reporters there would be an announcement “very, very shortly”.

The upbeat developments were the latest to give hope for an end to a row that has dragged on the global economy and contributed to a market sell-off at the end of last year.

However investors in Asia seemed unmoved, with markets there in the red today.

Key figures around 1340 GMT

London — FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 7,471.13 points 

Frankfurt — DAX 30: UP 0.5 per cent at 12,207.93

Paris — CAC 40: UP 0.4 per cent at 5,585.18

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 per cent at 3,498.13

Tokyo — Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 per cent at 22,090.12 (close)

Hong Kong — Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 29,963.26 (close)

Shanghai — Composite: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 3,250.20 (close)

New York — Dow: UP 0.3 per cent at 26,4533.57

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1246 from US$1.1296 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3015 from US$1.3039

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.94 yen from 112.09 yen

Oil — Brent Crude: UP 31 cents at US$71.93 per barrel

Oil — West Texas Intermediate: UP 11 cents at US$63.98 — AFP

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