European stock markets diverge as rally fades

LONDON (AFP): Europe’s main stock markets diverged Wednesday after a global rally faded.

Approaching the half-way mark, London rose while Frankfurt and Paris fell. Tokyo closed higher but Shanghai and Hong Kong flattened.

Oil prices climbed as crude-rich Gabon faced a military coup.

Global equities rallied Tuesday after a softer-than-expected report on US job openings soothed fears the Federal Reserve would again hike interest rates.
That weighed on the dollar Wednesday against the euro and pound.

“Signs of America’s cooling economy have raised hopes that the pause button will be pushed on punishing interest rate hikes,” noted Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Wall Street enjoyed one of its best days in months on Tuesday as Amazon and Apple shares rallied.

This was after the Labor Department’s closely followed Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) figure fell well short of forecasts.

A separate report revealed consumer confidence falling owing to concerns about jobs, higher rates and lingering inflation.

The readings come before this week’s release of the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation — the personal consumption expenditures price index — as well as data on non-farm payrolls and factory activity.

Analysts said the JOLTS reading would give monetary policymakers room to hold off on lifting borrowing costs further, having already pushed them to a two-decade high to tame prices.

The cooling of rate expectations helped bring US Treasury yields down and even allowed investors to bring forward bets on a rate cut to June from July, according to Bloomberg News.

“With layoffs estimated to be 8.8 million, it is still around 70 percent above its long-term average, but markets don’t care about that,” said Matthew Simpson at City Index.

“It’s the rate of change that matters. And with job openings falling to a 28-month low, it suggests the labour market is indeed softening.”