European and US stock markets mostly advanced yesterday, mirroring gains in much of Asia on hopes of progress in looming China-US trade talks, dealers said.
In London, the FTSE 100 closed down 0.3% to 7,337.11 points; Frankfurt — DAX 30 ended up less than 0.1% to 12,468.01 points and Paris — CAC 40 closed up 0.6% to 5,690.78 points yesterday.
The pound was mixed despite Britain claiming momentum in talks on a Brexit deal and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s apparent hint that one was still possible, with the UK due to leave the European Union at the end of next month.
Nevertheless it was solidly higher compared with a week ago, which didn’t help shares of international companies listed on the London stock exchange, with the blue-chip FTSE 100 index closing lower.
“The US-China trade story continues to be at forefront of traders’ minds as discussions took place yesterday,” said CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.
“Neither side wants to be seen as very eager to reach a deal, but the fact that talks took place is a positive step,” he added.
With a delegation from China in the United States to prepare for higher-level negotiations next month, investors hope the economic giants can find a solution to their tariffs row that has been a drag on the global economy for a year.
Stock markets have enjoyed a broadly positive September thanks to hopes for the talks, with both sides appearing to offer olive branches and sounding less confrontational than they did in July and August.
Equities remain supported by central bank shifts towards easier monetary policy, although there was some disappointment in the US Federal Reserve’s lack of forward guidance this week for further interest rate cuts.
London sentiment was buoyed Friday after Royal Bank of Scotland appointed long-serving banker Alison Rose as chief executive, making her the first female boss of a major UK lender.
The news sent RBS shares jumping 2.6% higher to stand at 213.5 pence.
On the downside, Rolls-Royce shares sank 2.1% to 792.8 pence after revealing that it was taking longer then expected to fix its troubled Trent 1000 plane engines.
Traders meanwhile kept an eye on the Gulf region after last weekend’s strikes on Saudi oil facilities fanned geopolitical tensions.
Devastating strikes crippled two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil plants on Saturday and sent the price of crude soaring on Monday.
Both main contracts then stabilised this week after the initial shock but there are worries of a possible conflict after the US and Saudi Arabia pointed the finger at Iran and said they were considering their response.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Thursday that any military strike on the country could lead to “all-out war”.
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