European shares closed mostly higher yesterday encouraged by brighter Chinese economic data and a modest recovery in oil prices, but a downturn on Wall Street capped earlier gains.
London and Paris were both higher, closing 0.5% and 0.3% up respectively, having fallen back from earlier highs on the back of upbeat figures from China providing some respite from a volatile start to 2016.
Frankfurt was led slightly lower by weak auto stocks.
“European equities are mixed in late-day action, with strength in oil and gas issues on an initial rebound in crude oil prices fading and the euro turning modestly higher versus the US dollar,” analysts Charles Schwab said in a note to investors.
US stocks opened higher eyeing a third straight gain as General Motors bolstered sentiment with an improved 2016 earnings forecast and a dividend hike, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average later slipped.
It was down 0.3% at around 1645 GMT.
In foreign exchange activity, the European single currency retreated to $1.0849.
Oil prices saw a slight rebound after collapsing below $30 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time in 12 years on global crude oversupply.
After more than a week of sharp equity losses fuelled by worries over China’s economy, news that the country’s exports had picked up in December provided some incentive to buy.
“Stocks initially gained ground on higher oil prices, continued stability in the Chinese yuan, and a relatively favourable China trade
report,” the Charles Schwab note said.
The rise in Chinese overseas shipments, from a fall in November, indicated authorities’ weakening of the yuan currency against the dollar was beginning to filter through.
The figures came against a backdrop of contracting global trade last year, meaning China’s export performance was relatively strong.
However Sheraz Mian, of Zacks, sounded a note of caution despite the upbeat China trade data.
“Today’s data notwithstanding, China’s status as a source of market uncertainty isn’t going away anytime soon.
“The country’s manufacturing and trade sectors have clearly lost momentum, which has been weighing on overall GDP growth data,” he said.
Yesterday US benchmark West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude both clambered back above $31 per barrel.
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