In European Equity Markets the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 finished up by 0.6% in afternoon trade, led by media stocks with a climb of 1.8%, although autos lost ground on average. The FTSE 100 ended up 0.5% higher, while markets in France and Germany made similar gains. German publisher Axel Springer jumped 22% after it revealed talks were underway with private equity house KKR over a potential strategic investment. Shares of Swedish radiation company Elekta continued to rose, adding almost 19% to Wednesday’s gains on the back of strong fourth-quarter results.
In Currency Markets the pound held near a four-month low against the dollar and the euro on Thursday as investors remained sidelined amid the contest to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May. May’s imminent departure deepens the Brexit crisis as a new leader, who should be in place by the end of July, is likely to want a more decisive split with the bloc, raising the chances of a confrontation with the EU and potentially a snap parliamentary election. Against the dollar, the pound was broadly steady at $1.2629, not far away from a four-month low of $1.2605 hit last week.
In Commodities Markets oil prices fell on Thursday on fears of a global economic slowdown due to a U.S.-China trade war but losses were capped by a tightening crude market and rising political tensions in the Middle East. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $69.03 per barrel, down 42 cents, or 0.6%, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 23 cents, or 0.4%, at $59.04 a barrel, supported by expectations of a fall in U.S. crude inventories
In US Equity Markets stocks rose for the first time this week on Thursday, as President Donald Trump said trade talks with China are doing well, offering a glimmer of hope to markets roiled by trade tensions. The S&P 500 was up 0.43%, at 2,795.04 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.44%, at 7,580.27. Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher, with only the energy and communication services sectors in the red. Discount retailer Dollar General Corp jumped 6.2% after the company reported quarterly same-store sales and profit above expectations.
In Bond Markets yields rose off 20-month lows on Thursday, though bonds pared price losses after data showed that inflation was lower than expected in the first quarter. Interest rates on U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell below 4% for the first time since January 2018 in step with declining U.S. bond yields due to growing trade tension between China and the United States, Freddie Mac said on Thursday. Thirty-year mortgage rates averaged 3.99% in the week ended May 30, down from 4.06% a week earlier and 4.56% a year ago, the mortgage finance agency said.