European Stocks Off Lows as Wall Street Opens Steady
Major European equity markets posted losses Thursday as investors cashed in on recent gains, but a steady opening on Wall Street helped them bounce off the day's lows.
The dollar also pulled lower as investors continued to speculate on the timing of the Federal Reserve's next interest rate move, with Thursday's batch of economic data offering little guidance.
"Perhaps investors are concerned that the Trump administration will turn their attention back towards barking at the strength of their currency," said Jameel Ahmad at FXTM.
Traders were also increasingly nervous awaiting details of U.S. President Donald Trump's announced tax plans, analysts said.
Global equities had risen Wednesday as investors reacted to fresh indications that the U.S. Federal Reserve could decide to lift interest rates as early as March.
But on Thursday, analysts detected a reluctance on Wall Street to power on and extend the record-breaking run over the past few sessions.
"Actions speak louder than words and investors still need full clarity on the fiscal campaign promises before pricing in further premiums into the equity markets," Ahmad said.
U.S. jobless claims released Thursday, although still at low levels, showed an increase in new benefits claims. New U.S. home construction slowed in January.
Neither figure added much clarity to the debate on the timing of the next Fed rate hike.
London was hampered by a number of companies going ex-dividend, meaning that the stock no longer carries the right to the most recently declared shareholder payout.
"The FTSE 100 is trading modestly lower but most of these losses can be explained away by a number of big names going ex-dividend," noted IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.
"BP, Shell, AstraZeneca and Imperial Brands are all trading without the benefit of the dividend, and with these heavyweights in the red it is going to be tough for the market to push higher.
- Air France lift-off -
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would release specifics on his new tax plan in the "not-too-distant future", adding it will be "good and simpler."
His remarks came less than a week after he promised "phenomenal" reforms to the tax system, spurring a surge in global markets and the dollar.
Among European equities, Air France-KLM shares surged nearly nine percent after the company reported rising profits for 2016.
Nestle dropped 1.2 percent after the Swiss food giant expressed caution on the outlook for its performance this year.
Oil rebounded after Russia said it would fully comply with a crude output cut agreement by the end of April.
- Key figures around 1445 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,282.93 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 11,755.08
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 4,902.51
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,311.35
New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 20,630.05
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 19,347.53 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,107.70 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,229.62 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0655 from $1.0601
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.24.97 from $1.2461
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.71 yen from 114.16 yen
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 30 cents at $56.05 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 35 at $53.46