Dax touches all-time high

Heading into the close the FTSE 100 is 40 points higher, as equity markets look to finish the week on a more positive note.

Frankfurt financial district
Source: Bloomberg

Miners move higer

It has been a day of bargain hunting in many FTSE names, with the top end of the index dominated by companies that have seen heavy losses during the week. Oil’s rebound today has set BP and Tullow Oil rallying, with the former helped significantly by legal developments in the US that have seen the firm’s potential liabilities significantly reduced.

With the fall in copper prices paused for now, miners have taken the chance to move higher, with Glencore leading the entire index after touching a record low this week. European indices continue to leave the FTSE in the dust however, with the DAX in particular capping a good week with further gains today, moving firmly back above 10,000 as the  long-awaited European Central Bank meeting gets a day closer. Clearly the positioning in the market at present is for some form of action from the ECB, although whether it will be enough to satisfy traders is another question entirely.

With Greek elections taking place at the end of next week it promises to be another week of elevated volatility.

US consumer confidence at 11-year high

US indices are struggling to make tentative gains this afternoon after a torrid week that has not been made better by disappointment in US bank earnings reports.

US consumer prices last month underwent their largest drop since December 2008, making it likely that further declines in prices are on their way as the slump in oil continues to be factored in. The good implications this has for consumer spending (despite that abysmal retail sales number earlier in the week) were reinforced by an 11-year high in consumer confidence figures. At least therefore there is some good news for US indices, which have had a particular poor start to the year.

Oil rebounds

Oil prices staged something of a rebound during the course of the afternoon, helped on its way by cuts to the International Energy Agency’s non-OPEC production forecast. Its suggestion that the tide in the price slump is turning sounds optimistic, but production cuts were inevitable at some point along the line, even if they did not come from OPEC.

Meanwhile gold enjoyed further gains as the flight-to-safety crowd worked themselves up into a frenzy once again. With central banks keeping markets on the hop, traders have looked afresh at gold and its apparent stability.

US data boosts dollar

Hopes of ECB quantitative easing are clearly driving the euro further down against the dollar, while the jump in consumer confidence in the US gave the dollar yet another boost. The contrast between the eurozone and the US gets starker by the day.

Clearly a weaker euro will help in the short term to buy time for the eurozone, but it is no substitute for a solid recovery, and there is certainly no sign of that on the continent at present. The currency continues to pay the price for confusion during times of crisis, and with Greek elections looming there could be more pain in store. 

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