- Traders eye US non-farm payrolls
and sterling move higher
- Market commentary is highlighting weakness in gold and copper
FTSE Mibtel 30: 0.64%
Ibex 35: 0.20%
Stoxx 600: -0.03%
European equities continued trading in a mixed fashion ahead of this afternoon's critical US non-farm payrolls report.
Despite traders' apparent indifference important economic indicators were released during the morning.
The Eurozone's unemployment rate remained unchanged during the month of March, standing at 11.8% for a fourth month. It means that excess capacity in the labour market will continue to pressure prices lower. As well, unemployment in Germany continues to be half that in France, for example, Capital Economics pointed out.
In parallel, a preliminary reading on the Eurozone's manufacturing sector was revised slightly higher, to 53.4 from 53 in the month before.
That came as sterling and the euro continued to grind higher versus the US dollar
in foreign exchange
However, whereas the Bank of England seems to be increasingly cognisant of potential risks at some point down the line stemming from rising UK housing prices, the ECB is thought to be hoping an acceleration in the American economy will weaken its own currency.
Acting as a backdrop, Ukraine launched an offensive against rebels in the city of Slovyansk.
According to a Kremlin spokesman, the action has killed hopes for the 'de-escalation' agreement reached between the two countries in Geneva last month.
To take note of, gold futures were heading towards a second consecutive weekly drop which some reports are linking to selling by exchange traded funds.
Copper futures on the other hand were on track to confirm their largest drop in seven weeks, with market commentary attributing the move to progress on Wednesday's latest move by the US Fed to reign in its asset purchase program.
Pfizer raises bid for AstraZeneca, Anglo-Swedish group says no
US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer raised its offer for British rival AstraZeneca to £50 from £46.61 beforehand, for a 39% premium versus the Anglo-Swedish company's market value on January 3rd. The UK-listed firm has rejected the terms of the offer as inadequate, adding that it "significantly undervalued" the company.
Shares of RBS spiked higher from technical support towards 300p after unveiling first quarter profits that tripled analysts' expectations.
German chemicals powerhouse BASF saw operating profits, at the EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) level, hit €2.1bn, versus the €2.12bn anticipated by markets.
From a sector standpoint the largest gains were to be seen in the following industrial groups: Telecommunications (1.62%), Travel&Leisure (0.91%) and Basic resources (0.50%).
Euro moves slightly lower
The euro/dollar was 0.04% lower at 1.3860.
Front-month Brent crude futures were advancing 0.545% to the $108.34/barrel mark on the ICE.