European stock markets end mixed as pound rises

European stock markets were mixed on Thursday amid a series of trade updates and a UK jobs report. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

European stock markets were mixed on Thursday amid a series of trade updates and a UK jobs report.

In London, the FTSE 100 (^ FTSE) was up 0.1% at the end of the day after a rollercoaster session, adding slightly to its two-year high the day before despite a stronger pound. The ACC (^FCHI) fell 0.7% in Paris and the Frankfurt DAX (^GDAXI) was flat.

It happened as the pound reached its highest level against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) in two and a half months, amid dollar weakness and the possibility that Boris Johnson will quit as prime minister.

It gained as much as 0.3% on Thursday to hit $1.3747, its highest since last October. against the euro (GBPEUR=X), the British pound was trading flat that day.

The currency’s move comes as traders weigh the Prime Minister’s potential resignation against attending a party in Downing Street during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

He is facing calls to resign among his opponents and within his own Conservative Party for breaking government rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Victoria Scholar, Chief Investment Officer at Interactive Investor, said: “The FTSE 100 still manages to hold above critical support at 7,500 after closing at the highest level since January 2020, while the pound extends its recent gains. , approaching key resistance at $1.38.

The pound has climbed over the past week.  Chart: Yahoo Finance

The pound has climbed over the past week. Chart: Yahoo Finance

“A multitude of commercial statements from Tesco (TSCO.L), MRS (MKS.L), khaki (PSN.L) and ASOS (ASC.L) boost UK price action on Thursday as attention soon turns to the US earnings season kicking off tomorrow with the banks.

This came as recruitment activity in the UK continued to rise strongly in December, according to the latest employment survey from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Permanent staff appointments and interim billings continued to rise during the period, while vacancy growth fell slightly again, reaching its lowest level in eight months.

However, competition for scarce workers again drove up starting pay rates for permanent and temporary staff, with the respective inflation rates among the fastest on record.

Read more: UK recruiters see slowing job growth as Omicron virus hits

On the other side of the pond, the S&P 500 (^ GSPC) was trading at % and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell 0.4% amid small selloffs in the sector. The Dow Jones (^ DJI) edged up 0.6% at the European close.

It came as average long-term U.S. mortgage rates hit their highest level since March 2020, as lenders anticipate a faster-than-expected tightening of monetary policy to tackle U.S. inflation. .

Separately, on Thursday, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to its highest level since mid-November.

According to the latest figures from the US Department of Labor, there were 230,000 new initial claims for unemployment assistance in the week to January 8, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted.

Economists polled by FactSet expected claims to hit 205,000.

Without seasonal adjustment, the actual number of initial claims increased by 103,693 to 419,446.

On Wednesday, US inflation hit 7%, its highest level since 1982, and the seventh month in a row that it has exceeded 5%.

Watch: What is inflation and why is it important?

Higher prices for housing and used cars and trucks were the main contributors to the inflation rate, with price increases of 0.4% and 3.5% from November, respectively.

Asian markets were mixed on Thursday as traders struggled to maintain the upward momentum from the previous day.

In Japan, the Nikkei (^N225) fell 1% as a stronger yen weighed on exporters, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) rose 0.1% and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) fell 1.2%.

Shares in Sydney, Taipei and Manila also rose, while Singapore and Wellington ended flat.

Watch: What are SPACs?