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European markets take a breather

By AFP - Mar 07,2017 - Last updated at Mar 07,2017

Traders work the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Jones at the New York Stock Exchange, in New York, on Monday (AFP photo)

LONDON — European stock markets paused Tuesday as investors waited on this week's interest rate call in the eurozone and crucial jobs data in the United States. 

The European Central Bank (ECB) will unveil the outcome of its latest monetary policy gathering on Thursday, with no change expected in borrowing costs.

Traders will then zero in on this Friday's eagerly-anticipated US non-farm payrolls (NFP) data, a key indicator for the health of the world's biggest economy, ahead of next week's Federal Reserve interest rate meet.

"Markets remain becalmed for yet another day, hampered by a lack of data and a general wariness ahead of the ECB on Thursday, NFPs on Friday and a Fed meeting next week," said analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.

The region's equities fell Monday with the financial sector hit by shock plans from Germany's troubled Deutsche Bank to raise 8 billion euros ($8.5 billion) in fresh capital.

Markets had been given a shot in the arm last Wednesday from hopes of a US spending spree under President Donald Trump.

"Equities have been taking a breather since last Wednesday's Trump-fuelled rally. I think we are looking for fresh direction now — Trump tax plans, ECB, Federal Reserve maybe," added ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

"Wait-and-see mode for now. The ECB might deliver some fresh impetus on Thursday but think we'll be looking for US to lead the way."

Further impetus came as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signalled last Friday that an interest rate increase could be on the way this month — if US employment and inflation remain in line with expectations.

Analysts interpreted that as a clear sign that the central bank will raise the benchmark lending rate at the March 14-15 policy meeting.

 

A time to reflect 

 

"The build up to this week's big data point — the US jobs report — has offered the opportunity for some reflection for investors," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"The last few weeks have seen the focus switch from Donald Trump's plans to revitalise the US economy with tax cuts, substantial infrastructure spending and deregulation, back to the Fed — partly because we still have little idea of what the former will entail, and partly because the Fed suddenly decided to send a coordinated message that it plans to raise interest rates."

Wall Street opened lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding nearly a tenth of a percentage point.

"US stocks are dipping in early action, following yesterday's modest declines.

"The global markets continue to deal with a surge as of late in Fed rate hike expectations for next week as well as political risk on both sides of the Atlantic," said analysts at US brokerage Charles Schwab.

In foreign exchange activity, the European single currency has been on the back foot since Friday, also dented by uncertainty over the French presidential elections.

Most Asian markets rose Tuesday in cautious deals over Trump as well as geopolitical risks. While Trump's speech to Congress last week fired optimism that he would press on with a big-spending, tax-cutting programme, he has yet to flesh out his plans.

 

On the downside, Tokyo stocks shed 0.2 per cent, extending Monday's losses that came after North Korea's quadruple missile launch, three of which landed in Japanese-controlled waters, stoking regional security fears. 

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