European stocks shunt higher before weekend

Investors are in wait-and-see mode as they head into the weekend, traders said.

London (AFP) – Europe’s major stock markets pushed higher Friday ahead of the weekend, with investors in “wait-and-see mode” amid a dearth of company earnings, analysts said.

Sentiment across global markets has been buoyed this week by US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited tax cut plans, but they faltered somewhat on Friday.

“Markets (are) just going sideways. Investors are in wait-and-see mode,” said William Hamlyn, investment analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

“Economic activity and corporate earnings generally looks robust, and investors will be waiting for confirmation of that (in) third-quarter results,” he told AFP.

“We will also be waiting for clarification of the European Central Bank’s intentions.”

The Frankfurt-based ECB has strongly hinted that it will begin winding down bond-buying in October, although inflation in the eurozone remains well short of its target.

The London market was boosted Friday by rising oil prices — which benefits the energy and resources sector  — and the softer pound.

Investors also digested news that the British economy grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter, matching its expansion in the previous three months.

 – Asia claws higher – 

Asian equities mostly clawed higher Friday on the back of Trump unveiling proposals that included cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

His market-friendly promise to reduce taxes, ramp up infrastructure spending and slash red tape helped drive a global rally in the months after his November election win.

But those gains had fizzled as Trump’s legislative agenda suffered a series of blows and the White House has become embroiled in a host of crises.

Analysts drew comfort from the fact that Trump has worked more closely with Republican congressional leaders on the tax issue than on the failed health care reform they attempted.

Still, the tax bill is expected to face a tough passage through Congress, with both sides of the aisle likely to question its affordability.

 A rise in the yen meanwhile pushed Tokyo stocks downwards on Friday. A stronger Japanese currency hurts the nation’s exporters.

 – Key figures around 1100 GMT – 

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,370.12 points 

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 12,753.98

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,305.45

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,575.09

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.03 percent at 20,356.28 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 27,554.30 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,348.94 (close)

New York – DOW: UP 0.2 percent at 22,381.20 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1795 from $1.1784 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.52 yen from 112.29 yen 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3372 from $1.3439

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 25 cents at $57.66 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP two cents at $51.58



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