European markets rise; gold shines

December 07, 2013 - 7:32:26 am
LONDON: European stock markets posted solid gains yesterday following unexpectedly strong US jobs data, despite this raising the odds that the Federal Reserve could soon reduce its huge stimulus injections.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.83 percent at 6,551.99 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 jumped 0.96 percent to 9,172.41 points and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.72 percent to 4,129.37 points. Milan tacked on 0.73 percent and Madrid edged up 0.9 percent.

European indices had trod water for much of the day but then shot up after the US Labour Department announced that the country’s jobless rate fell sharply to 7 percent in November, the lowest level in five years.

US stocks also bounced higher, despite positive data often sending stocks tumbling as investors see it as a sign the Federal Reserve could soon begin cutting its bond-buying programme from the current $85bn per month.

In midday trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 0.99 percent to 15,978.43 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.92 percent to 1,801.38 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.78 percent to 4,064.81.

Marcus Bullus, trading director at MB Capital, said “in the event the equity markets took the good news as just that—good news.”

The data raises the likelihood the Fed will begin to cut bond buying stimulus when its monetary policy committee meets on December 17-18, he said.

Economist Robert Wood at Berenberg Bank also believes there is more of a chance the Fed will begin winding down, or tapering its stimulus this month.

But the US economy “seems to have weathered well the higher interest rates since the summer discussion of tapering, suggesting it is ready to digest the real thing,” added Wood.

In foreign exchange activity on Friday, the euro rose to $1.3695 from $1.3666 late in New York on Thursday. The dollar rose to 102.83 yen from 101.77. The British pound dipped to 1.1935 euros but rose to $1.6346.

Gold prices, meanwhile, rose to $1,233 an ounce on the London Bullion Market, up from $1,222.50.

Asian equity markets mostly fell as better-than-forecast US growth data added to expectations the Fed will start to wind down its stimulus programme as early as this month.

Sydney lost 0.23 percent, Shanghai finished 0.44 percent down and Seoul slid 0.22 percent, while Tokyo gained 0.81 percent in value.

In company news, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell announced that it has abandoned plans to build a US facility to convert natural gas into diesel and other fuels, citing high costs.  The news sent Shell’s ‘B’ share price jumping 2.9 percent to 2,157 pence in London.

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