European stock markets higher at end of volatile week

European stock markets rose Friday after Asia traded mixed as trading wound down in another volatile week marked by fears of a global trade war poisoning a positive economic outlook.

Europe “gradually became a bit more positive as Friday went on, though with the US open still looming those gains are far from set in stone”, said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex traders.

“The only real number of note this morning was the final eurozone inflation reading for February, which unexpectedly came in at… 1.1 percent.

“Clearly whatever the ECB is doing to get that CPI figure creeping higher isn’t working, news that helped send the…DAX and CAC up,” he added.

In foreign exchange, the dollar fell further against the yen as investors continue to buy the Japanese unit as a hedge against volatility, while euro gains were capped by a soft tone from the European Central Bank on its plans for monetary tightening.

Officials “have made it clear the ECB still leans dovishly when it comes to” restarting rate tightening in the eurozone, said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

In company news, shares in Siemens’ Healthineers unit providing medical machinery to hospitals surged in their debut on the Frankfurt stock exchange, after the industrial giant raised 4.2 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in a more muted than expected initial public offering.

Shares jumped seven percent to 29.93 euros, as investors shrugged off a technical glitch that delayed the start of trading by some 45 minutes.

Dealers have swung from optimism to pessimism since last week’s controversial move by US President Donald Trump to throw up tariffs on imports of some metals, with the removal of his moderate secretary of state adding to the unease.

However, the president’s agreement to meet North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the Asian country’s nuclear programme provided much-needed relief, while a positive jobs and wages report tempered worries interest rates would shoot up.

Attention now turns to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting next week. A rate rise is expected but its statement and new bank boss Jerome Powell’s comments will be pored over for clues about future hikes with speculation it could announce three more this year.

“It’s shaping up to be arguably one of the most critical central bank policy events in some time as Jay Powell gets set to dictate the course of Fed policy for the remainder of 2018 and beyond,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

Wall Street’s three main indices ended mixed Thursday, with a drop in US jobless claims providing support, while top White House advisor Peter Navarro, a trade hawk looking to soothe trade war fears, told CNBC the administration planned to work with allies “to make things better for everybody”.

However, he added that Trump would soon consider fresh measures against Beijing over its “theft” of US intellectual property.

Further uncertainty has been fanned by reports that Trump is planning to sack his National Security Advisor HR McMaster, just days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was ousted and not long since Trump’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn resigned.

Elsewhere on Friday, bitcoin was stable around $8,200 after heavy losses in recent days.

Key figures around 1200 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,151.45 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 12,396.1

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,276.1

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,424.33

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 21,676.51 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 31,501.97 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 24,873.66 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2330 from $1.2300 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3967 from $1.3933

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.61 yen from 106.39 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP two cents at $65.14 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 15 cents at $61.34 per barrel

Posted on: 2018-03-16T17:52:00+05:00