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European stocks mixed, euro under pressure | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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LONDON, (AFP) – European stocks traded mixed on Friday while the euro remained under pressure in thin pre-holiday trade, hitting a 10-year yen low over persistent concerns about the eurozone debt crisis and another sharp global downturn.

The European single currency slumped to 99.97 yen in London morning trading — which was the lowest level since December 2000 and the first time it has breached the key 100-yen barrier since June 2001.

It later recovered to 100.10 yen, still below 100.61 yen on Thursday in New York.

However the euro held above $1.29, trading at $1.2935. On Thursday it had tumbled to $1.2858 — the lowest since September 14, 2010 — before rebounding on the brighter US economic data.

In low-volume morning deals, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies dipped 0.20 percent to 5,555.54 points, as investors wound down before an earlier than usual finish at 1230 GMT.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 added 0.37 percent to 5,866.90 points and in Paris the CAC 40 won 0.17 percent to 3,133.79 points. The two markets will reopen on Monday, while London returns for business on Tuesday.

“With traders already gearing up for New Year’s Eve, shortened sessions in some regions and no US data in the afternoon, there’s little expectation of anything significant happening today,” said dealer Jonathan Sudaria at trading group Capital Spreads.

“As traders say goodbye and probably good riddance to 2011 — a year that saw most of the European and Asian indices recording double-digit losses — traders may not be so welcoming to 2012 either.

“The one bright spark to 2011 has been the resilience of the United States, given the weak global economic backdrop.

“However, with the European debt crisis still outpacing policymakers’ ability to curtail it, and uncertainty over how China’s slowdown will land, downside risks are already lining up for 2012.”

Across in Asia on Friday, equities mostly rose following another set of positive US economic data, but eurozone debt fears remain after a disappointing debt sale by Italy.

Tokyo gained 0.67 percent to finish at 8,455.35 points, its lowest year-end level since 1982.

The Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished the year down 17.34 percent, with the March 11 devastating earthquake and tsunami taking its toll on share prices.

Hong Kong meanwhile added 0.20 percent on Friday after a tumultuous year in which it lost a fifth of its value on concerns of a fresh global recession.

Chinese stocks rallied 1.19 percent on Friday, lifted by hopes Beijing may cut bank reserve requirements early next year, dealers said.

However, Shanghai has lost 21.68 percent this year, the biggest annual fall since 2008, on concerns over high inflation, an economic slowdown and tight liquidity conditions, dealers said.

Markets were meanwhile given a good lead from the United States, where Wall Street rallied after upbeat jobs news and positive results on the housing front.

The US Labor Department said unemployment benefits rose for the first time in four weeks, but the trend still pointed to a steady decline in layoffs.

Initial claims were at 381,000 in the week ending December 24, up 15,000 from the previous week but the four-week moving average fell to 375,000, a level last seen in June 2008.

And the National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index rose 7.3 percent from October to a 100.1 reading in November, its highest since April 2010.

It was the second straight month of strong improvement after the October reading jumped more than 10 percent. The index base of 100 was set on average levels in 2001.

Adding to the positive figures was data showing manufacturing in the Chicago area remained strong.

On Wall Street the Dow jumped 1.12 percent, the S&P 500 added 1.07 percent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.92 percent.

“Given that we are in the last trading day for 2011 and volumes are likely to remain subdued, it looks like markets around the region seem happy to take their leads from the US and try to finish this year on a positive note,” Jason Hughes, strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said in a note.

However, Europe’s debt struggles continued to be in focus after Italy scraped through a key bond auction Thursday, raising 7.0 billion euros ($9.0 billion), at the end of a disastrous year for the eurozone.

That was below the maximum 8.5 billion euros sought but long-term rates held below the 7.0 percent danger zone that is considered too high for governments to service their debts.

The interest on bonds due in 2021 was at 6.7 percent — higher than the 5.77 percent for the last similar operation in October — but the rate on bonds due in 2022 was 6.98 percent, compared with the 7.56 percent paid in November.