European stock markets limp towards weekend break


LONDON: Europe’s main stock markets steadied on Friday, failing to profit from gains across Asia and on , while the dollar firmed against main rivals and prices retreated following a surge the previous session.

Around 1000 GMT, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent at 7,235.47 points compared with Thursday’s close.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s 30 index edged up 0.1 percent and the CAC 40 was flat.

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland slumped 4.6 percent to 269 pence in London, despite the state-rescued bank posting its first profit since 2007, on the eve of the global financial crisis.

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“It seems that investors were put off but the lack of clarity surrounding RBS’ settlement with the Department of Justice” linked to the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex trading group.

Earlier on Friday, Asian stock markets ended the week on a positive note following overnight gains on Wall Street, traders said.

While global stock market volatility that greeted the start of February has subsided somewhat, traders continue to fret over the prospect that US borrowing costs are likely to rise further as the world’s top economy powers ahead.

“Investors are just nervous about interest rates,” Paul Nolte, a portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago, told Bloomberg News.

“Everybody is waiting for more economic data to confirm or deny whatever the Fed position is. It’s a big case of the nerves.”

Equities sank in the middle of the week after the Fed released minutes pointing towards a number of US rate hikes this year owing to an expected surge in inflation as Donald Trump’s tax cuts kick in and economic growth improves.

In foreign exchange meanwhile, the dollar climbed against the euro on Friday, recovering some losses amid cautious moves by the European Central Bank towards an exit from crisis-era stimulus.

The broadly positive sentiment provided a platform for the greenback to rise also against the yen, which is usually the go-to currency in times of turmoil.

In commodities trading, oil prices retreated on profit-taking, one day after crude rallied on easing concerns about a pick-up in US supplies.

Oil prices jumped about a dollar on Thursday as official data revealed a surprise fall in US crude stockpiles.

Bitcoin meanwhile rose back above $10,000 on Friday.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2018



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