In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.3% higher at the closing bell, with tech and telecoms stocks adding more than 1% while basic resources fell 0.8%. Marks & Spencer shares fell more than 10% after the British retailer reported a 0.6% fall in revenue in the third quarter of 2019 and suggested its 2020 gross margins will be at the lower end of its guidance. Argenx climbed 5.7% after the Dutch biotech company announced positive phase two proof-of-concept data for an antibody trial and confirming its 2021 vision.
In Currency Markets sterling fell to a near two-week low against the U.S. dollar after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said there could be a “relatively prompt response” from the bank if the current spell of economic weakness persisted. Sterling fell as much as 0.6% to $1.3014, its lowest level since Dec. 27. It also fell against the euro, down 0.6% at 85.34 pence. Money markets currently price a roughly 60% chance of a 25 basis point interest rate cut by December. That is versus just over 50% at the end of 2019.
In Commodities Markets oil prices retreated further on Thursday after sharp losses in the previous session, as the market shifted its focused towards rising U.S. crude stocks and away from fears of an imminent escalation of conflict between the United States and Iran. Broadly, prices were moving back towards where they stood before the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, prompting an Iranian rocket attack on Iraqi airbases hosting U.S. forces. These events had pushed crude to its highest in four months.
In US Equity Markets stocks hit record highs on Thursday as Middle East tensions eased, optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal rose and several brokerages boosted price targets on high-profile companies. The S&P 500 was up 0.45%, at 3,267.63 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.76%, at 9,198.49. Shares in Kohl’s Corp fell 8% after the department store operator forecast full-year earnings at the bottom end of an already lowered target. J C Penney Co Inc declined 5.8% after disappointing same-store sales numbers.
In Bond Markets the selloff in Treasury bonds which began Wednesday after a de-escalation in tension between the United States and Iran continued on Thursday, accelerating in early trade on a strong weekly jobless report. The 10-year Treasury yield has swung nearly 20 basis points this week on the headlines, dropping to a month low of 1.705% in overnight trade between Tuesday and Wednesday. The 10-year yield was last trading up 2.4 basis points to 1.899%.