Rosy economic data lifted European stock markets on Thursday even as broader world equity markets dipped, while sterling hit a nine-month low against the euro after the Bank of England’s policymakers kept interest rates unchanged.
Britain’s FTSE index, up 0.9 percent, led the charge in overseas markets and sterling skidded to its lowest since Nov. 2 at 90.48 pence per euro after the British central bank kept rates at a record low and cut its forecasts for growth and wages due to Brexit uncertainty.
The weaker growth outlook bolstered expectations the BoE will be less likely to raise interest rates in the near future.
The FTSE index’s advance put it on track for its biggest daily percentage gain since July 12.
“The combination of what is going on politically in the UK plus what the central banking position is, it’s not surprising,” said Rui De Figueiredo, chief investment officer and co-head of the Solutions and Multi-Asset Group at Morgan Stanley Investment Management in New York.
Europe’s STOXX 600 recovered from early falls to nudge into positive territory, gaining 0.1 percent. Markets in Italy, up 0.9 percent, and France, up 0.6 percent, advanced although German stocks dipped by 0.2 percent.
Among other upbeat news, retail sales in the euro zone increased by 0.5 percent in June on the month, well above market expectations of a 0.1 percent rise.
“The investors perspective on Europe is more of a ‘show me’ situation than it is in the U.S., that has meant the discount – whether it is price to book, price to earnings, relative to U.S. is still a positive for European stocks,” said De Figueiredo.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.16 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.10 percent.
U.S. equities retreated slightly, weighed by weakness in technology and financials, although the Dow was able to hold above the 22,000 mark, which it closed above for the first time on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.68 points, or 0.01 percent, to 22,018.92, the S&P 500 lost 4.8 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,472.77 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.06 points, or 0.22 percent, to 6,348.58.
U.S. labor market data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, a positive factor that may keep the Federal Reserve on course to announce plans next month to start reducing its massive bond portfolio.
The claims data, however, has no bearing on July’s employment report, which is scheduled to be released on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period.
The U.S. dollar weakened against a basket of major currencies after weaker-than-expected U.S. services sector data worried investors ahead of the jobs data and stoked doubts that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates again in 2017.
The dollar index fell 0.1 percent, with the euro up 0.23 percent to $1.1881. Sterling was last trading at $1.3141, down 0.61 percent against the dollar on the day.