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European stocks steady going into festive break


Stockbrokers on floor of New York Exchange

Stockbrokers on floor of New York Exchange

European stock markets steadied on Thursday, the final session before the festive break and following a volatile week’s trading.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 percent ahead of an earlier than usual finish to trading owing to the Christmas shutdown.

In the eurozone, the Paris CAC 40 fell 0.5 percent to 4,670.9 points compared with Wednesday’s close.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 was already shut for the holiday, having closed up 2.3 percent on Wednesday.

Europe’s main indices had all rallied Wednesday, helped by rebounding oil prices.

With London, Frankfurt and Paris all closing with gains of more than two percent, the so-called Santa rally of buoyant pre-holiday trading finally set in.

“Even allowing for the rebound seen in the last couple of days, equity markets are still well below the levels that we started out at in the first week of December,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at trading group CMC Markets UK.

In foreign exchange, the euro climbed to $1.0960.

Asian stock markets mostly rose on Thursday, also helped by the oil market.

A jump in US crude inventories raised hopes that a sell-off in the commodity, which has seen the Brent contract plumb 11-year lows, may be nearing an end.

Adding to the upbeat tone on trading floors was another round of economic data from Washington reinforcing the view that the world’s number one economy is in rude health.

Thursday’s gains were underpinned by a third straight rise in oil prices after the US Department of Energy said stockpiles tumbled in the week ending December 18, while imports fell about 13 percent week on week.

The news lit a fire under energy firms around the globe, while miners also benefited from hopes of Chinese stimulus.

But recent sharp gains need “to be set into the context of thinning pre-holiday volumes as traders look at making a start on various end of year bookkeeping and position adjustments as markets wind down for the long Christmas break”, Hewson added.

– Key figures around 1100 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,250 points from Wednesday’s close.

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 4,653.4

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,280.8

Frankfurt – DAX 30: closed Thursday

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 18.789.7 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 1.1 percent at 17,602.6 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0960 from $1.0910 late Wednesday

Dollar/yen: DOWN to 120.32 yen from 120.87 yen

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