In European Equity Markets stocks edged higher on Thursday as investors welcomed results from Man Group and Pandora maintained its outlook, while French equities outperformed ahead of the first round of France’s presidential election. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended the session 0.2 percent higher. France’s CAC 40 rose 1.5 percent and marking its best day since the beginning of March. European banks also rose, up 0.8 percent. UBS on Wednesday upgraded the sector to ‘neutral’ from ‘underweight’, citing rising reflation expectations and a seemingly more benign regulatory environment. British hedge fund Man Group shares rose 4 percent after it reported net inflows over the first quarter.
In Currency Markets the euro rose to a three-week high against the U.S. dollar on Thursday as some traders shut down broad bets against the common currency ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections on Sunday. The euro was up 0.52 percent against the dollar at $1.0765 after hitting a three-week high of $1.0777 earlier in the session. The greenback was also pressured this week by a resurgent sterling after British Prime Minister Theresa May called an early general election ahead of Brexit negotiations. Sterling was up 0.49 percent at $1.284. Meanwhile, commodity currencies, including the Aussie and the New Zealand dollars recovered ground against the greenback.
In Commodities Markets oil prices were little changed on Thursday in a seesaw trading session, as investors weighed rising U.S. production against comments from leading Gulf oil producers that an extension to OPEC-led supply cuts was likely. Brent futures were up 15 cents to $53.08 a barrel. U.S. crude futures were up 6 cents at $50.50 a barrel. OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signaled that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, would likely extend their oil output cut beyond June. Spot gold was little changed at $1,279.56 an ounce. Silver was 0.1 percent lower at $18.06, while platinum was up 1.3 percent at $975.90. Palladium was up 3 percent to $797.98.
In US Equity Markets stocks were higher in late morning trading on Thursday, boosted largely by gains in financial and materials stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.35 percent, at 20,474.95, the S&P 500 was up 0.26 percent, at 2,344.25. The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.34 percent, at 5,882.71. Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the financial index’s 0.77 percent rise leading the gainers. CSX Corp jumped 7 percent after the No. 3 U.S. railroad operator’s quarterly profit beat estimates. The stock was among the biggest boosts to the S&P and the Nasdaq. Shares of Philip Morris fell 3.6 percent after the tobacco maker’s first-quarter profit forecast came in below estimates.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields rose on Thursday as investors waited on the results from the French election this weekend, after earlier falling to break below key technical resistance. The 10-year notes were last down 10/32 in price to yield 2.24 percent. European bond markets reflected improved poll standings for Emmanuel Macron in the first round of France’s presidential election Sunday. German and most other euro-zone 10-year yields are higher by 3 bp-6 bp while French 10-year yield is lower by about 1 bp.