European stock markets drop, banks in focus

GMT 19:41 2014 Wednesday ,20 August

Arab Today, arab today European stock markets drop, banks in focus

European stock markets
London - AFP

European stock markets retreated on Wednesday after two days of strong gains, while the euro briefly hit a one-year low against the dollar as markets focused on central bank action.
European stock markets dipped on Wednesday, with Frankfurt's main DAX index shedding 0.21 percent to 9,314.57.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 lost 0.35 percent, ending on 6,755.48 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 fell 0.32 percent to 4,240.79 points, as traders banked recent profits.
By midday in New York, the Dow Jones was up 0.17 percent to 16,948.01 points while the tech-rich Nasdaq nudged 0.03 percent higher at 4,528.79.
The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.10 percent to 1,983.49 points.
Europe's main indices had finished higher on Tuesday, extending the previous day's surge as easing fears about the Ukraine crisis fuelled investor optimism ahead of a speech by the head of the US Federal Reserve.
On Wednesday, the euro dropped to $1.3275 in early London trading hours -- the lowest point since September last year, and then recovered slightly to $1.3288. This compared with $1.3321 late on Tuesday in New York.
"The US dollar is continuing to derive support from the ongoing out-performance of the US economy in the near-term which appears to be strengthening while growth in most other major economies is losing momentum," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Slow growth, low interest rates and tepid inflation on both sides of the Atlantic will be in focus when heads of the US and European central banks meet this week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
All eyes will focus on Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, and Mario Draghi, her counterpart at the European Central Bank, with observers looking and listening for signs of what they plan for interest rates.
Yellen is facing calls to begin raising interest rates soon after US measures aimed at stimulating the world's biggest economy are wound up in October.
- British rate to rise? -
On foreign exchange markets, the euro fell to 79.87 pence from 80.15 pence on Tuesday, while the pound rose to $1.6634 from $1.6617.
The European currency climbed however against the Yen to 137.34 compared with 137.07 Tuesday.
The pound advanced on increased prospects of a rise to British interest rates before the end of this year, traders said.
This comes as the Bank of England stands divided on whether to maintain record-low interest rates. Minutes of the BoE's last meeting revealed on Wednesday a first split among policymakers for more than three years, with two members voting to increase the bank's key interest rate.
Markets are watching to see when the Bank of England will embark on a round of interest rate rises as Britain's economic recovery outpaces the neighbouring eurozone.
"We still have a respectable number of companies in positive territory for the day so this really is more a case of the market pacing itself as opposed to any big shift in sentiment –- at least for now," said Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct.
The price of gold dropped to $1,294.50 an ounce from $1,296.50 Tuesday on the London Bullion Market.
- Standard Chartered fine -
On the corporate front, shares in bank Standard Chartered rose 0.29 percent to 1,221 pence. New York state's banking regulator on Tuesday hit Standard Chartered with a $300-million fine and restrictions on its dollar-clearing business for failing to detect possible money-laundering.
The new punishment came two years after the bank paid US regulators $667 million to settle charges it violated US sanctions by handling thousands of money transactions involving Iran, Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.
Some analysts said the fine represented a failure of global malpractice deterrents for banks.
"They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over-again and expecting a different result," said Heather Lowe, legal counsel and director of government affairs at watchdog Global Financial Integrity. "The settlement today is a prime example of that."
Global oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, with dealers anticipating strengthening US demand.
In late afternoon trade, Brent North Sea crude for October delivery advanced 22 cents to $101.78 a barrel, one day after hitting a 14-month low on easing geopolitical tensions.
New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in September jumped 79 cents to $95.27 per barrel.

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