Global stocks pressured by oil weakness, profit taking
AFP – Global stocks were under pressure Wednesday from weakening oil prices and worries about President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Major equity markets finished mixed, with Tokyo and Hong Kong falling decisively and indices in London, Paris, Frankfurt and New York ranging from flat to slightly positive or negative.
Petroleum-linked shares were pressured as a US inventory report showed swelling supplies of gasoline, hitting oil prices.
Analysts also cited Trump’s controversial move on Israel, which drew swift condemnation from international leaders and raised worries about the overall prospects for stability in the Middle East.
Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, cited the Jerusalem move as a factor in the Nikkei’s 2.0 percent slide.
The Jerusalem issue could be "an unsettling factor to the global order" and gave a convenient excuse to sell to investors who had been waiting for an opportunity to reap profits on recent gains, Sengoku told AFP.
It was "a cue for profit-taking," he added.
In Europe, Frankfurt finished modestly lower, London slightly higher and Paris flat.
The US also had a mixed day, with strong gains by Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants lifting the Nasdaq, while the Dow and S&P 500 both declined.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said the mixed finale in New York was "impressive" given the day’s headwinds, including "consternation" over the Jerusalem announcement.
The pound retreated with British-EU talks in limbo, one day after the government’s coalition partner dismissed Prime Minister Theresa May’s position on the future of Northern Ireland’s border with eurozone member Ireland.
EU leaders have given May a deadline of the end of this week to resolve outstanding issues in order to draft an agenda in time for a crucial EU summit on December 14-15 and open this second phase of talks.
"A deal on the Irish border issue remains elusive and if not reached this week, could result in delays to negotiations moving to the topic of trade between the EU and UK," said Omer Esiner of Commonwealth Foreign Exchange. "Sterling remains vulnerable to continued uncertainty associated with the Brexit."
Bitcoin hit another record high, breaching $12,500 for the first time before retreating, as the cryptocurrency continues to attract speculative interest from investors, having risen 15-fold since mid-January.
– Key figures around 2200 GMT –
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 24,140.91 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 2,629.27 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent at 6,776.38 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,348.03 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 12,998.85 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 5,374.35 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,561.09
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 22,177.04 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.1 percent at 28,224.80 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,293.96 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1795 from $1.1826 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3387 from $1.3441
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.29 yen from 112.57 yen
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.64 at $61.22 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.66 at $55.96 per barrel