European indices struggle to hold ground

This morning’s disappointing eurozone trade balance data has prevented any sort of bounce in Europe's equity markets following yesterday’s fall.

Thursday’s sell-off across global equity markets does feel a little overdone and a calmer, more calculated assessment of equity fair values is probably called for today. Having said that, fears over the timing of US quantitative easing still persist and are preventing any enthusiastic ’buy on the dip’ traders from jumping into the market.

Under different circumstances the bullish stance of many commodities would have seen the FTSE 100’s commodity-based equities rally strongly, but their performance has been somewhat outweighed by a more generally cautious sentiment. Thinner trading volumes at this time of year can easily lead to over-exaggerated moves and this could account for some of the more wildly swinging stocks, such as Fresnillo, an equity that appears happiest when trading either up or down at least 5% in a day.

Later in the afternoon we will be able to digest the latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment figures, but how accurately that will indicate market trajectory at present is questionable.

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