European markets stable; Ukraine’s currency firms

March 01, 2014 - 5:21:12 am

People walk past a board of an exchange counter in central Kiev yesterday.

LONDON: Europe’s main stock markets closed stable or moderately higher yesterday, while Ukraine’s under-pressure currency, the hryvnia, firmed on the promise of IMF financial help.

London’s FTSE 100 stock market index barely moved from close the day before, finishing just one point down at 6,809.7 points. The DAX 30 in Frankfurt added 1.08 percent to 9,692.08 points, and Paris’s CAC 40 closed up 0.27 percent at 4,408.09 points.

Wall Street stocks moved higher in early trade, shrugging off a lower estimate of fourth-quarter US economic growth. About 35 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 71.06 points (0.44 percent) to 16,343.71.

Ukraine’s hryvnia currency rebounded on Friday from record dollar lows after the IMF urged calm. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said: “We do not see anything that is critical, that is worthy of panic at the moment.”

Kiev contacted the IMF on Thursday to ask for emergency help and an IMF fact-finding team is expected in Ukraine within days.  The hryvnia rose to around 9.100 to the dollar, having plunged to a historic low of 11.3075 on Thursday. Ukraine’s central bank also took the step of capping cash withdrawals in the country to 15,000 hryvnia ($1,400) per day to stem a run on bank accounts.

Meanwhile the euro picked up against the dollar, strengthened by eurozone inflation figures judged unlikely to prompt a European Central Bank rate cut. Eurozone inflation stood at 0.8 percent in February from a year earlier, official data showed. The euro at 1700 GMT was trading at 1.3804 to the dollar, up from 1.3710 late Thursday. 

The European unit also gained on the yen, at 140.90 yen against 140.05 the day before, while the dollar stabilised against the Japanese currency, at 102.08 yen from 102.15 on Thursday. The European single currency rose to 82.43 British pence from 82.15 pence on Thursday.

The pound gained to $1.6743 from $1.6688.  On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to $1,326.50 an ounce from $1,332.25 on Thursday.