In European Equity Markets indices closed higher on Thursday, as investors monitored the latest flurry of corporate results and reacted to Brexit developments in the U.K. The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8 percent higher with most sectors and major bourses finishing in positive territory. Europe’s oil and gas stocks were some of the best performers along with media and insurance. Germany’s Gea Group rose to the top of the European benchmark after reporting that full-year revenue rose almost 5 percent in 2018, prompting shares to jump 10 percent.

 

In Currency Markets sterling retreated on Thursday from nine-month highs as traders braced for the week’s third parliamentary Brexit vote, this time on whether to extend Britain’s March 29 deadline for exiting the European Union. The pound on Wednesday enjoyed its biggest one-day gain against the dollar since last April after UK lawmakers resoundingly voted to reject a no-deal Brexit. The pound was 0.7 percent lower at $1.3242. Versus the euro, it was down 0.5 percent at 85.40 pence.

 

In Commodities Markets oil prices were mixed on Thursday after touching four-month highs as OPEC stressed the need to extend its production cut program past June while lowering its forecast for crude demand. Disappointing economic data out of China and a dip in the U.S. stock market weighed on crude prices. Brent crude hit a 2019 peak of $68.14 per barrel before falling to $67.33 a barrel, down 22 cents or 0.3 percent from Wednesday’s close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures edged up 26 cents to $58.52 a barrel, or 0.5 percent.

 

In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Thursday weighed down by concerns of a delay in trade talks between the United States and China, and data which showed a higher-than-expected fall in new home sales in January. Trade-sensitive Caterpillar Inc fell 0.7 percent. The S&P 500 was down 0.10 percent, at 2,808.17 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.11 percent, at 7,635.03. Facebook Inc dropped 1.98 percent after a 17-hour partial outage made the world’s largest social network inaccessible to users across the globe, driving a wave of online complaints.

 

In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields were little changed to slightly higher on Thursday, but confined within narrow ranges, amid uncertainty regarding trade talks between the United States and China after a report said a deal is unlikely to happen this month, but in April. U.S. long-dated yields were the most affected by ongoing global tension, falling in seven of the last nine sessions. U.S. 10-year note yields edged up to 2.621 percent from 2.610 percent late on Wednesday. U.S. 30-year bond yields were up at 3.017 percent from 3.01 percent on Wednesday.

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