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European stocks pause for breath

European stocks pause for breathLONDON: Europe’s main stock markets paused on Thursday in subdued deals, erasing most of their earlier gains, as caution prevailed over Greece’s debt crisis, dealers said.

Frankfurt’s benchmark DAX 30 index was flat at 11,521.11 points in afternoon trading, while the CAC 40 in Paris slid 0.18 percent to 5,073.34.

London stocks meanwhile held in positive territory, boosted after publisher Pearson revealed it was in “advanced” talks to sell the Financial Times, reportedly to Germany’s Axel Springer newspaper group.

The British capital’s FTSE 100 index added 0.07 percent to 6,672.12 points, while Pearson’s share price jumped 2.1 percent to 1,234 pence.

In foreign exchange, the euro firmed to $ 1.0960 from $ 1.0926 late in New York on Wednesday, as Greece took another step closer to securing a bailout following the Athens vote.

“The FTSE 100 is broadly unchanged as the market struggles to make its mind up,” said IG analyst David Madden.

“A lack of pessimism does not constitute optimism, and that is exactly what equity markets are experiencing today, as traders do not know which way to look.

“After several days of declines, traders don’t hold a particularly strong view in either direction.”

The region’s indices had opened with initial gains after Greece’s parliament passed legislation on reforms crucial to securing bailout funds from its creditors.

The Greek bill passed by a resounding 230 votes out of the 298 members of parliament present, after a marathon debate stretching into the early hours.

The vote was a key test of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ authority after he suffered a major rebellion in his leftist Syriza party at last week’s vote on a first tranche of tough reforms demanded by Athens’ creditors.

Tsipras is negotiating a new bailout worth up to 86 billion euros over three years.

The legislation covers changes to the civil justice system, a bank deposit protection scheme and measures to shore up the liquidity of Greece’s banks — reforms that had to pass if Athens was to move forward in bailout negotiations with its creditors.

“With a strong majority, the Greek parliament passed the second tranche of creditor-specified reforms on Wednesday evening, in the process clearing the final hurdle required of the country before third bailout talks could formally begin,” said Spreadex trader Connor Campbell.

“The 36 rebellious Syriza MPs could still cause problems down the road for Alexis Tsipras, but for now, at least, he has the green flag to chase that much needed bailout package.”

Asian markets mostly rose Thursday, with Tokyo lifted by a stronger dollar as investors position for an expected US rate hike and Shanghai extending a recent rally to six sessions.

Tokyo rose 0.44 percent as the dollar, Shanghai jumped 2.43 percent, while Hong Kong added 0.46 percent.

Seoul ended marginally higher, but Sydney lost 0.43 percent.

US stocks opened mixed Thursday following a torrent of mostly solid earnings reports.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had edged down 0.04 percent to 17,844.33 points .

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.08 percent to 2,115.91, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.15 percent to 4,630.29.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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