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Markets

European equities mostly dip on US rate jitters

  • London's benchmark FTSE 100 index won 0.3 percent to 7,107.31 points just after midday.
Published June 23, 2021
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LONDON: European equities mostly fell Wednesday, as dealers set aside news of soaring eurozone and UK business activity to focus on stubburn US interest rate concerns.

In early afternoon eurozone deals, Frankfurt stocks shed 0.7 percent and Paris lost 0.6 percent in value, erasing initial gains.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index won 0.3 percent to 7,107.31 points just after midday.

Markets remain concerned that strong rises to inflation will cause the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to raise interest rates faster than expected, impacting the global post-Covid economic recovery.

Fed chief Jerome Powell attempted to ease concerns on Tuesday over the timing of higher interest rates.

"Federal Reserve efforts to quell negative sentiment ... have brought some stability," said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

"However, while Powell stated that the Fed would not raise rates on inflation expectations alone, there is still a risk that continued upside in prices force the bank to tighten policy sooner than expected."

Asian markets rose as Powell's remarks reassured investors who had been rattled last week by the bank's forecasts of an earlier-than-flagged hike in interest rates.

Back in Europe, a key survey showed eurozone business activity jumped at its fastest rate in 15 years this month, as a reopened economy unleashed pent-up demand in Europe.

IHS Markit's PMI index -- which shows the earliest trends in manufacturing and service sectors -- said eurozone activity leapt from 57.1 in May to a booming 59.2 in June, far above the 50-point level that indicates growth.

The data set the scene for major growth, closing the chapter on a double-dip recession that came with the second wave lockdowns of last autumn and winter.

IHS Market also revealed that Britain's private sector business activity expanded at a near-record pace as firms reopen from lockdown.

Oil prices extended gains to sit around multi-year highs on increasing optimism over demand as the world economy reopens and governments talk about easing quarantine measures, allowing easier overseas travel.

Analysts said the lack of progress on the Iran nuclear deal was also providing support as it puts off the return of supplies to the global market from the major producer.

Brent oil hit $75.66 per barrel, the highest level since late October 2018, while New York crude is trading at a similar level.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rebounded to sit near $34,000 one day after falling below $29,000 for the first time since January.

The unit has taken a hit this week by fresh moves to crack down on cryptocurrencies by China.

"Bitcoin's continued sell-off has contributed to a negative outlook by traders driven by bearish news out of China," said analyst Nick Mancini at Trade The Chain.

Key figures at 1110 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,111.10 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 15,530.68

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 6,574.19

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.7 percent at 4,095.82

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 28,874.89 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.8 percent at 28,817.07 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,566.22 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 33,945.58 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1947 from $1.1940 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3963 from $1.3949

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.52 pence from 85.60 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.02 yen from 110.65 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $75.54 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $73.44 per barrel

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