July 22: Stocks marked time near their opening levels in Europe and the US on Monday after losses in Asia as traders readied for earnings reports from hi-tech heavyweights later in the week.
Oil prices spiked higher meanwhile, before easing back to conserve modest gains amid ongoing tension in the Gulf, where Iran still held a British-flagged tanker seized late last week.
With the second-quarter earnings season underway, “so far companies are beating low expectations, which may just be enough to avert an earnings recession,” commented Neil Wilson at Markets.com.
“By the end of the week we should know a lot more about the state of corporate America,” he added.
Among the companies that will come under scrutiny are Facebook, Google parent company Alphabet and Amazon.
On oil markets, concern focused on the Gulf, as Britain repeated its demand that Iran release the Stena Impero, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized on Friday in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“Traders are clearly a little on edge due to the importance of the passage for global oil supplies,” remarked Craig Erlam at the Oanda brokerage.
“Oil prices haven't risen too much yet but if the situation deteriorates further, we should possibly brace for higher prices,” he added.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said Monday that “the oil market is currently well supplied”, and added that it was “ready to act quickly and decisively in the event of a disruption.”
In late afternoon deals in Europe, London Brent oil had gained 1.1 percent and New York crude was up by 0.6 percent.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat in midday trading.
– Asian stocks slide –
Asian equities retreated earlier in the day on dimming hopes for a sharp interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve, although all the firms on a new tech-focused board in China rallied on its opening day.
Traders took a step back after last week's gains as the New York Federal Reserve tempered comments from its president, John Williams, who had suggested the central bank could cut borrowing costs by 50 basis points at its policy meeting this month.
Bets that the Fed will only reduce rates by 25 basis points provided support to the dollar against most high-yielding, riskier currencies.
– Key figures around 1600 GMT –
- London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,514.93 points (close)
- Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,289.40 (close)
- Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,567.02 (close)
- EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,489.92
- Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 21,416.79 (close)
- Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 28,371.26 (close)
- Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 2,886.97 (close)
- New York – Dow: FLAT at 27,1140.92
- Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1216 from 1.1221
- Dollar/pound: DOWN at $1.2480 from $1.2502
- Dollar/yen: UP at 107.91 yen from 107.71 yen
- Brent North Sea crude: UP 66 cents at $63.13 per barrel
- West Texas Intermediate: UP 33 cents at $55.96