An electronic board on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
London - Arab Today
European and US shares mostly firmed Thursday despite another drop in oil prices ahead of Friday's eagerly anticipated US jobs report for January.
Stocks in London outperformed other bourses, rising 1.1 percent after the Bank of England slashed its economic forecast, kept ultra-low interest rates in place and hinted at a slower time-frame for lifting rates.
In the US, the S&P 500 finished up 0.2 percent despite veering into negative territory a couple of times in a choppy session, as oil prices closed lower and US data showed a drop in fourth-quarter productivity and a rise in weekly jobless claims.
"Things are mixed but the stock market is actually performing surprisingly well, given the downbeat economic news we received this morning," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.
"The market seems pretty resilient."
Investors were looking ahead to Friday's US employment report, which is expected to show the US economy added 188,000 jobs, down from a December surge of 292,000. A weak report will be seen as further denting the prospects for the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates.
The dollar remained under pressure, while the strengthening yen resulted in a 0.9 percent drop in the Nikkei 225.
Analysts also saw the strengthening euro as having a dampening effect on European exporters. Frankfurt shares lost 0.4 percent, while Paris finished barely positive.
"Exporters' values are suffering today and are pulling lower, notably because of the clear strengthening of the euro" since Wednesday, said Saxo Banque analyst Andrea Tueni.
Shares of industrial metals producers surged as dollar-denominated commodities like copper gained with the weakening greenback. British-listed copper producer Antofagasts surged 14.6 percent, while US aluminum giant Alcoa powered 10.1 percent higher.
US shares of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse plunged 10.8 percent after posting a net loss of nearly $3.0 billion following a large write-down.
US oil company ConocoPhillips slumped 8.6 percent after announcing it would slash its dividend and cut its capital budget in response to low oil prices. ConocoPhillips lost $39 million in the fourth quarter.
Ralph Lauren plummeted 22.2 percent as the apparel maker slashed its 2016 sales and profit margin forecast due to the strong dollar. Newly installed chief executive Stefan Larsson said he had launched a review of the company's business in light of the weak results.
- Key figures around 2200 GMT -
New York - Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 16,416.58 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 1,915.45 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 4,509.56 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 1.1 percent at 5,898.76 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 9,393.36 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.0 percent at 4,228.53 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 2,905.30 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 17,044.99 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1215 from $1.1111 on Wednesday