Traders have not been egged on by positivity over US-China trade talks ahead of the Easter break (Bernd Settnik)

London (AFP) – Stock markets mostly fell on Thursday as investors wound down before the Easter break, with positivity surrounding China-US trade talks and healthy Chinese growth failing to fire buying activity.

The euro slid versus the dollar as data showed business growth in the eurozone had hit the lowest level since 2014 on German sluggishness and stagnation in France.

The single currency’s drop helped support eurozone exporters, pushing up overall stock market values in the region.

Around 1000 GMT, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index had gained 0.5 percent and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.3 percent from Wednesday’s closing levels.

Outside the eurozone, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 0.2 percent, despite stronger-than-expected British retail sales figures.

Beset by looming political risks such as Brexit and weaker global growth, the eurozone is struggling to keep the economy growing at a healthy pace, a survey from data firm IHS Markit showed.

“Traders are mindful of the Easter break and we might see some trimming their positions ahead of the long weekend,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

– US-China talks –

Focus remained also on China-US trade talks after it was reported that President Donald Trump’s key negotiator Robert Lighthizer is preparing to visit Beijing at the end of the month, hoping to end the long-running tariffs spat.

The Wall Street Journal story was followed by Trump saying he was optimistic the talks would be “successful”, and telling reporters there would be an announcement “very, very shortly”.

The upbeat developments were the latest to give hope for an end to a row that has dragged on the global economy and contributed to a market sell-off at the end of last year.

However, investors seemed unmoved, with Wall Street ending down on Wednesday and Asian stock markets also in the red on the final day of business before Easter.

– Key figures around 1015 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,453.09 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 12,209.40

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,582.15

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,497.03

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 22,090.12 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 29,963.26 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,250.20 (close)

New York – Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 26,449.54 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1252 from $1.1296 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3008 from $1.3039

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.91 yen from 112.09 yen

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 15 cents at $71.47 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 10 cents at $63.66


Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.