European equities mostly fell Thursday as dealers nervously eyed coronavirus restrictions in subdued trade, with Wall Street shut for Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, dealers said.
London’s stock market declined as investors digested news on the latest Covid-19 restrictions that will be imposed after England’s current four-week partial lockdown ends next week.
In the eurozone, Paris sagged while Frankfurt flatlined, shrugging off a broadly positive session in Asia that followed this month’s vaccine-fuelled markets rally.
Oil prices stepped lower, while the dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.
“There is always a certain weariness about European markets on Thanksgiving Day, knowing that they are almost certainly condemned to a directionless session with little volume and not much movement,” said analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.
“Even when there is (movement) it is likely to be quickly unwound once the Americans get fully back in the saddle from Monday.”
Most Asian stocks rose but traders moved cautiously, with an eye on rising virus infections that are forcing governments to impose containment measures across the globe.
With at least three breakthrough Covid-19 vaccines in the pipeline and possibly rolled out within weeks, the general mood on trading floors is upbeat for 2021.
However, a fresh batch of US data underlined the immediate impact of the disease and the long road ahead for economies.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting warned that the country’s recovery would be tougher without a new stimulus package.
Official figures showed new jobless applications rose for a second straight week as businesses were hit by a sharp increase in new infections and deaths that have led several major cities including New York and Los Angeles to close bars and restaurants.
The readings gave traders a dose of reality following weeks of fervent buying in reaction to vaccine successes and Joe Biden’s election victory.
“The US data on Wednesday highlighted the economic fragility as the country battles an even more severe wave of Covid-19 than it was faced with earlier this year which is likely to continue to weigh in the coming weeks,” said OANDA Europe analyst Craig Erlam.
“The Fed minutes did not directly hint at more bond buying in December but given the Covid-19 spike and lack of a fiscal response, it is still looking very likely.”
Ahead of the Thanksgiving break, the Dow and S&P 500 ended lower Wednesday after hitting records the day before, while the Nasdaq hit a new all-time high as tech firms surged.
“It’s going to be a very quiet end to the week with the US Thanksgiving bank holiday — and extended weekend for many — leaving a massive void in the markets,” Erlam said.
“The economic calendar was front loaded this week as a result of the holiday leaving just a few low impact releases over the next couple of days and no major central bank decisions.”
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 6,356.23 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: FLAT at 13,291.17
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,566.06
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,513.50
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 26,537.31 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 26,819.45 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,369.73 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 29,872.47 (close Wednesday)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1911 from $1.1917 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3363 from $1.3380
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 104.25 yen from 104.46 yen
Euro/pound: UP at 90.89 pence from 90.82 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.2 percent at $45.15 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.1 percent at $48.06 per barrel