FTSE closes flat as pound and oil rises
European stock markets were mixed on Friday, initially tumbling into the red before staging a small recovery, closing the week out barely changed.
In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) ended flat on the day, held back by a stronger pound (GBPUSD=X), while the CAC (^FCHI) was down 0.2% in Paris, and the DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.3% higher in Frankfurt.
Shares in oil producers were some of the biggest drags on the day.
It comes as oil prices (BZ=F) are heading for their biggest weekly gain in almost two months after China softened its stance on COVID-19 restrictions.
The rise comes ahead of a key meeting at the weekend of the Organisation Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+), and a last-minute drive by the European Union to agree on a price cap for Russian oil.
“This week oil has been staging gains amid optimism towards the potential loosening of COVID restrictions in China and the opening up of its economy at last, which could potentially unleash demand for crude oil from the world’s second largest economy,” Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said.
“At its October meeting, OPEC+ cut its daily oil production by 2 million barrels per day to try to boost prices. A recent media report that the cartel was considering hiking production was quickly refuted by Saudi Arabia. Given this week’s rally, perhaps the cartel will hold off from doing anything at all until China’s demand trajectory becomes clearer.”
Read more: Cost of living: Minimum wage rates leave under 21s out of pocket by £2.5bn
Across the pond, the S&P 500 () dipped 0.1% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq () fell 0.2%. The Dow Jones () edged 0.1% higher by the end of the day.
Traders will have their eyes on a jobs report later on Friday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s next policy steps.
Economists predict that job creation slowed in November, as rising interest rates cooled the labour market. The non-farm payroll is expected to have risen by around 200,000, down from 261,000 in October.
Earlier this week Fed chair Jerome Powell signalled a downshift in the pace of interest rate hikes. Bets on where the central bank rate will peak have now dropped below 4.9%, according to swap markets. The current benchmark sits in a range between 3.75% and 4%.
Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index steadied after sinking to its lowest since June.
Watch: Wall Street takes a breath after Powell rally
Stocks fell in Asia after US equities struggled for direction, with the Nikkei (^N225) falling 1.6% on the day in Tokyo.
The Japanese yen’s five-day rally increased downward pressure on stocks while a Bank of Japan board member suggested the need for a policy assessment, which added to negative sentiment.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng (^HSI) fell 0.3%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) also dipped 0.3%.
Read more: Christmas shopping slows as customers put off by strikes and cost of living
Elsewhere, Australian and New Zealand government bond yields slid during the session, following the lead from Treasuries on Thursday, when their rally gathered steam amid a pullback in expectations for Fed tightening.
The 10-year US benchmark yield rose slightly to 3.54% during Asian trading.