European stock markets close higher
European stock markets closed slightly higher on Wednesday as a steady showing in Asia gave way to a slow day on Wall Street.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index had gained 0.1 percent while indices in Frankfurt and Paris had edged a bit further into positive territory.
German investors were cheered by a rebound in industrial orders in September, while the French services sector posted growth in October on the back of stronger foreign demand.
In New York, the Dow was 0.2 percent lower in midday trading, after the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said third-quarter productivity had fallen by 0.3 percent, the biggest drop since 2015, while unit labor costs increased by 3.6 percent.
“Markets are back in consolidation mode on Wednesday,” noted Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.
Analysts at the Charles Schwab brokerage said that “US stocks are taking a breather following a recent rally back to all-time highs, with the upward momentum being stalled by the first drop in nonfarm labor productivity in nearly four years.”
Meanwhile, “we are still seeing plenty of trade war headlines with China, it seems, looking to capitalise on (US President Donald) Trump’s desire to secure a phase-one agreement,” Erlam noted.
Signs of trade talk progress also helped support the Chinese yuan, which was hovering slightly above seven to the dollar, having broken below that level on Tuesday for the first time since May.
Chief market analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com was among those who suspected the effects of a possible trade talk advance might have run their course.
“One can’t help but feel the market is already pricing in all the good news, and ignoring the bad,” Wilson said.
“A deal seems to hinge on the US removing the tariffs it’s placed on China — for all the optimism, this would be a stretch,” he commented.
Elsewhere, oil prices — which reached six-week highs Tuesday on trade and economic hopes — bobbed up and down throughout the day, and were lower in late European trading.
– Key figures around 1700 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,396.65 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 13,179.89 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,866.74 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,688.74
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 23,303.82 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 27,688.64 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,978.60 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,451.50
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1074 from $1.1075 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.98 yen from 109.16 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2870 from $1.2884
Euro/pound: UP at 86.04 pence from 85.96 pence
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $62.32 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.7 percent at $56.86 per barrel