European stock markets kick off key week with falls

European stock markets kick off key week with falls

London (AFP) – European stock markets eased on Monday at the start of a key week for China-US trade hopes and ahead of Britain’s general election. 

The dollar dropped against its main rivals after a rally on Wall Street Friday fuelled by a forecast-busting US jobs report.

Sterling jumped awaiting Thursday’s UK election that is expected to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win a big enough majority to push through his Brexit deal.

Oil prices retreated on profit-taking after Friday’s healthy gains in reaction to OPEC and non-cartel producers led by Russia agreed to cut output by a further 500,000 barrels a day.

Adding to the pre-weekend buying was a decision by kingpin Saudi Arabia and other key countries to make additional reductions.

On the corporate front Monday, shares in UK supermarket giant Tesco shot up more than five percent to 245 pence after Britain’s biggest retailer said it was looking at exiting its Thai and Malaysian businesses.

Sanofi shed 0.5 percent to 83.17 euros after the French pharmaceutical giant said it had agreed to buy US biotech firm Synthorx, boosting its immuno-oncology portfolio.

“It is a potentially huge week for the markets — not only because of the UK election, but due to the looming trade deadline this Sunday,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex trading group.

“Not that you’d necessarily know that following Monday’s open. The markets were relatively timid at the start of the session, which is forgivable considering what is at stake.”

While observers widely expect Beijing and Washington to hammer out a partial tariffs agreement, trading floors remained nervous places with less than a week until a deadline when the US is due to impose fresh levies on Chinese goods.

Hopes that the US and global economy could be showing signs of picking up were given a boost Friday when the Labor Department said the US economy created 266,000 net new jobs in November, while it upgraded readings for the previous two months.

The figure was well up from the 190,000 expected, while the report also showed unemployment at a 50-year low and wages growth improving.

The data “could support the notion (of) a near-term rebound in the US and the global economy”, said AxiTrader’s Stephen Innes.

“Even if you don’t believe that narrative while thinking we are merely in the calm between two storms, it’s challenging to critique this… report in any other light than to describe it as excellent, if not a total blockbuster.”

Chinese trade data over the weekend failed to provide any excitement, with exports falling more than expected as the tariffs spat with the US grinds on, although imports beat forecasts.

Eyes are on also the Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting, which ends on Wednesday, with analysts expecting it to hold off cutting interest rates for a fourth time this year.

– Key figures around 1130 GMT – 

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,226.84 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 13,149.68

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 5,851.80

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN  0.2 percent at 3,684.85

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 23,430.70 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 26,494.73 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,914.48 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 1.2 percent at 28,015.06 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1073 from $1.1060 at 2200 GMT on Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3173 from $1.3140 

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.05 pence from 84.17 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.47 yen from 108.58 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN one percent at $63.76 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $58.68 per barrel

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