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European stock markets advance as energy price surge eases

·3-min read
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY,19 (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during the concert in memory of politician Anatoly Sobchak at the Conservatory in St.Petersburg, Russia, February,19,2020. Vladmir Putin is marking 20th annivesrary of Anatoly Sobchak's death, who was his chief in the Government of St.Petersburg in early 1990-ties. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin helped drag gas prices back from record levels last night. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

European stock markets pushed higher on Thursday as the surge in energy prices started to ease.

In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) closed more than 1.2% higher on the day, while the French CAC (^FCHI) was almost 1.7% up, and the DAX (^GDAXI) was 1.8% higher.

It came as Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested that state-backed Gazprom could increase supplies to help Europe avoid a full-blown energy crisis.

“Let’s think through the potential increase of supply on the market, only we need to do it carefully,” he said.

His comments helped drag gas prices back from record levels last night.

Natural gas prices over the last month. On Wednesday they hit record highs before retreating. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Natural gas prices over the last month. On Wednesday they hit record highs before retreating. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Elsewhere, UK house prices hit another all-time high in September. According to the Halifax monthly house price index, prices rose by 1.7% last month, adding more than £4,400 to the value of the average property.

This rate of monthly growth was the strongest since February 2007, pushing year-on-year house price inflation up to 7.4%. 

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “Risk appetite has briefly returned for investors, although sentiment remains delicately poised.”

Read more: UK house price rises sharply as stamp duty holiday ends

Across the pond, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 1.4% by the time of the European close, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 1.6%. The Dow Jones (^DJI) edged 1.5% higher.

It positive mood on Wall Street came as the number of people filing new claims for jobless support in the US dropped for the first time in four weeks.

There were just 326,000 initial unemployment claims filed in the week to 2 October, down from 364,000 the previous week.

Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said: "The three-week detour away from declining jobless claims appears to have ended.

"While the most recent week is above the pandemic-era low of 312,000 a month ago, we may be able to chalk the temporary rise to a combination of reporting issues in some states, layoffs from hurricanes and maybe the spike in the COVID-19 Delta wave.

"With Delta infections dropping rapidly and hurricane effects mostly finished, we should resume the path toward normal levels of weekly layoffs, about 100,000 less than current levels.”

Watch: Jobless claims fall last week, layoffs rise in September

On Wednesday, US politicians appeared near to a temporary deal to avert a federal debt default and as Russia reassured Europe on gas supplies, calming volatile markets.

Oil prices also dropped back from multi-year highs, having been a major contributor to this week's equities sell off, while US benchmark Treasury yields and major currencies steadied amid the calmer mood.

Asian shares rallied on Thursday, taking their cue from a late recovery on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) climbed 0.5%, regaining ground lost in recent days, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) surged 2.8%. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) remained closed for a holiday.

Benchmarks in Korea and Australia also rose.

Watch: Gas prices swing wildly as Putin comments put the brakes on latest spike

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