LONDON: Stock markets mostly fell Thursday, as the US Federal Reserve chief’s upbeat assessment of the economy failed to allay concerns about a global trade war, analysts said.
The dollar rose across the board, with the pound slumping under $1.30 for the first time in 10 months as weak UK retail sales data dented the chances of an interest rate hike from the Bank of England in August, experts added.
“A drop in retail sales… has sent the pound sharply lower, continuing the general trend of the week,” noted Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG trading group.
In Paris, shares in advertising group Publicis slumped 9.4 percent to 52.80 euros after the French firm said sales tumbled in the second quarter.
However Iliad, the parent company of mobile operator Free, jumped 6.7 percent to 143.45 euros after the company said it signed up one million clients since launching service in Italy at the end of May.
Across the Atlantic, Wall Street stocks fell in early trading, with several companies tumbling after earnings.
But Comcast gained three percent as it said it was pulling out of the bidding war with Walt Disney for film and television operations of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and would focus on acquiring the European TV operator Sky.
– Threat of more tariffs –
On the macroeconomic front, the markets were still mulling Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s warning that the spiralling global trade war was having a negative impact on companies in the US.
President Donald Trump has imposed steep tariffs on products from China worth tens of billions of dollars, and has threatened to target hundreds of billions more, on top of import taxes on steel and aluminium that have angered allies including the EU.
The Fed chief said US businesses were already being hurt by reciprocal tariffs on key products, pointing out: “The bottom line is a more protectionist economy is less competitive, less productive.”
– Key figures at 1415 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 25,076.23 points
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,686.81
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,675.26
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,417.54
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,099.41
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,764.68 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,010.86 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,772.55 (close)
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2990 from $1.3069 at 2030 GMT
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1609 from $1.1639
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.97 yen from 112.86 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 47 cents at $73.55 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 47 cents at $68.23 per barrel—AFP