Wall Street lower but FTSE secures gains ahead of Easter break

A look at how the major markets are performing this Thursday

·3 min read
FTSE  A trader walks on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 23, 2023.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
FTSE higher but US stocks were in the red ahead of key jobs report. Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

The FTSE 100 and European stocks pushed mostly higher this Thursday despite the backdrop of weaker-than-expected economic data in the US.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 0.85% to 7,728 points during afternoon trading, while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in Paris was muted at 7,319 points. In Germany, the DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.16% to 15,544.

US and Asia

Wall Street fell Thursday, with tech stocks leading the Nasdaq lower than other indexes, after fresh data pointed to a gradual softening of labour market conditions ahead of the highly anticipated Friday job report.

The Dow Jones (^DJI) lost 0.31% to 33,377 points. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) retreated 0.40% to 4,073 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ (^IXIC) slipped 0.71% to 11,912.

On Wednesday, two new data releases pointed to further economic weakness. Private companies added 145,000 jobs in March, lower than consensus estimates of 210,000, signalling that employers are pulling back, payroll processing firm ADP reported.

Read more: UK house prices rise for third straight month to £287,880

“Volumes are expected to remain muted as we enter the holiday weekend,” the US market intelligence team at JPMorgan said in a note. The stock and bond markets will both close for Good Friday on April 7.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect Friday's jobs report to show 240,000 jobs created last month. This would be significantly lower than the average job gains of 343,000 over the last six months.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) lost 1.22% to 27,472 points, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong tumbled 0.23% to 20,227. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) slipped 0.1% to 3,309 points.

FTSE 100

Back in London, Shell (SHEL.L) jumped 1.86% after it announced it expects to increase the amount of gas it produces in the first quarter of the year and will pack more ships with liquid gas thanks to developments in Australia.

The business said it expects to produce between 930,000 and 970,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from its integrated gas division in the three months, up from 917,000 barrels in the last three months of 2022.

It also expects to load ships with between seven and 7.4 million tonnes of liquid natural gas (LNG) during the quarter, an increase from 6.8 million tonnes in the previous three months.

This is due largely to more of the gas flowing through two sites in Australia, Shell said.

Read more: Trending tickers: Shell | Persimmon | Antofagasta | TUI

International recruiter firm Robert Walters (RWA.L) reported a 4% rise in gross profit in the first quarter but warned market uncertainty continued to impact recruitment activity.

Chief executive Robert Walter said: “As reported with our recent year-end results, the market uncertainty we experienced in the latter stages of last year has tipped over into the first quarter of 2023”

“Our businesses in Europe, the Middle East and South America held up relatively well whilst Asia Pacific and the UK experienced single digit dips in net fee income albeit against tough and record prior year comparatives,” he added.

Pound vs dollar

The pound (GBPUSD=X) was down against the dollar, trading around $1.24, after rallying for most of this week.

The same against the euro, with sterling (GBPEUR=X) hovering around €1.13.

Read more: Could oil hit $100 again? Here’s what the analysts think

Oil markets

Meanwhile, Brent crude (BZ=F) lost ground and was trading at around $84/barrel after weak US job openings data signalled cooling economic conditions which may hit demand.

Oil prices jumped by more than 6% on Monday after OPEC+ pledged voluntary production cuts.

Watch: 'Something has now broken' amid Fed rate hikes: Strategist

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