In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 0.24%, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory. Europe’s construction stocks were among those leading the losses, down 0.96%. Britain’s third-largest homebuilder Taylor Wimpey saw its shares lose more than 5%, after research from real estate website Zoopla showed house sales in London had fell 20% since 2015, with house prices in the U.K. capital at a 7 year low. British construction firm Balfour Beatty’s stock was down more than 2% on the back of the news.
In Currency Markets the U.S. dollar rose to a near two-year high against the euro on Thursday, as upbeat U.S. data fed demand for the greenback and traders awaited the release on Friday of U.S. gross domestic product data for the first quarter of 2019. The euro fell 0.11% to $1.114, its lowest since May 2017. The Swedish crown fell to a 17-year low after the country’s central bank delayed its next interest rate hike. The British pound fell after reports that Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s talks with the opposition Labour Party over Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, had run into the sand.
In Commodities Markets brent oil rose above $75 per barrel on Thursday for the first time this year as quality concerns forced the suspension of some Russian crude exports to Europe while the United States prepared to tighten sanctions on Iran. Brent crude futures were at $74.95, up 38 cents. They earlier hit a session high of $75.60, their loftiest since Oct. 31. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $65.85 per barrel, down 4 cents. It hit a session high of $66.28 earlier, but rising U.S. crude inventories weighed prices down.
In US Equity Markets stocks were pulled lower on Thursday by downbeat earnings from industrial companies, including 3M, although strong results from marquee names Facebook and Microsoft kept the tech-heavy Nasdaq afloat. 3M Co shares fell 11.3% after the Post-It notes maker reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, cut its 2019 earnings forecast and said it would lay off 2,000 workers globally. The S&P 500 was down 0.18%, at 2,921.97 and the Nasdaq Composite was flat at 8,101.28. Among the four S&P sectors trading higher was communication services index, boosted by Facebook.
In Bond Markets Treasury yields were up slightly on Thursday morning amid mixed U.S. economic data, stalling a price rally that began on Wednesday. Yields fell by four to five basis points across maturities on Wednesday as investors piled into the safe-haven government bonds following a dovish report from Canada’s central bank and weak data from Germany and Australia. That rally was on pause in morning trade, with yields less than a basis point higher.