In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.23 percent lower in trade after rallying earlier in the Thursday session. Europe's industrials stocks led the gains initially, up more than 1 percent amid earnings news. France's Airbus rose 2.6 percent, after the company announced stronger-than-anticipated fourth-quarter results. Micro Focus - Britain's second largest listed tech firm - ended the day up 12 percent, after posting a better-than-expected decline in pro-forma revenue.
In Currency Markets the U.S. dollar fell to session lows on Thursday morning following a report that U.S. retail sales recorded the biggest drop in more than nine years in December, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018. Thursday’s data is supportive of the Federal Reserve’s current inclination towards patience in its rate-hiking cycle. After four increases in 2018, market participants are anticipating the central bank will hold off on raises for the next one or two quarters. The euro rose on the back of the dollar’s move, up 0.29 percent, last at $1.130.
In Commodities Markets oil prices reversed direction and eased on Thursday after the steepest decline in U.S. retail spending since 2009 heightened investor fears of a global slowdown. Brent futures were up 5 cents at $63.66 a barrel, after hitting a 2019 high of $64.81, while U.S. crude fell 38 cents to $53.52 a barrel, down from a session high of $54.68. Earlier in the session, international benchmark Brent crude reached its highest so far this year as prices drew support from investor optimism that the United States and China could resolve their trade dispute.
In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Thursday, led by declines in consumer and bank shares, after bleak retail data fanned concerns about retailer earnings. The S&P 500 was down 0.44 percent, at 2,741.04 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.17 percent, at 7,408.00. Coca-Cola Co fell 7.6 percent after the world’s largest beverage company forecast slowing sales in 2019 and lower demand for its fizzy sodas in some markets. The fall weighed on the S&P consumer staples, which declined 0.74 percent. The S&P retailing index fell 0.74 percent.
In Bond Markets Euro zone government bond yields fell sharply on Thursday after weak U.S. retail sales compounded concerns about slowing U.S. growth, and German GDP data showed its economy did not grow at all in the fourth quarter. German 10-year government bond yields fell as low as 0.086 percent following the U.S. retail data, close to the near 2-1/2 year lows of 0.07 percent hit on Friday. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell as low as 2.64 percent and was last down 4.5 basis points on the day.
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