European Market Open: Indices head lower as Brexit talks rumble on
Fiona Cincotta December 18, 2020 3:42 PM
European markets are called to open lower today as tense Brexit negotiations look set to continue over the weekend.
- European indices are set to open lower on Friday morning, as tense Brexit negotiations look destined to continue over the weekend.
- In forex, both the pound and the euro have slipped against the dollar after both currencies hit two-and-a-half year highs versus the greenback yesterday.
- In commodities, oil prices slipped from nine-month highs as surging coronavirus cases prompt concerns over future demand.
FTSE 100 to fall
The FTSE 100 is set to open 0.2% lower this morning at 6545.3 from 6557.1 at the end of play Thursday.
European indices to open lower
The Euro STOXX Index is called to open 0.2% lower at 3556.5 from 3562.3 at the end of play yesterday.
Germany’s DAX is set to open 0.2% lower at 13665.0 from 13690.9 at the close on Thursday, when it hit its highest level since late February.
Meanwhile, France’s CAC 40 is also expected to open 0.2% lower at 5533.2 from 5544.3.
A new Brexit deadline?
Pressure is building for the UK and the EU to strike a trade deal by this Sunday to ensure there is enough time for it to be ratified. Both sides have suggested they were largely resolving the deadlock over certain issues like governance and the level-playing field, leaving fisheries as the main stumbling block.
The EU is keen for any agreement to be made by this Sunday to give member states time to ratify the deal before the end of the year. Meanwhile, UK MPs are on standby to come back from their Christmas break next week in the event any deal is struck. However, UK cabinet minister Michael Gove has suggested a deal could still be pushed through even if talks went on beyond the weekend.
With just two weeks left to go, there is optimism that an agreement is closer than ever, but no-deal remains the most likely outcome. After a phone call with European Commission president Ursala von der Leyen, prime minister Boris Johnson said negotiations were in a ‘serious situation’ and that a no-deal was ‘very likely’ if the EU did not change its position ‘substantially’.
UK consumer confidence jumps on vaccine news
The GfK UK consumer confidence index came in at -26 in December, up from -33 in November, marking the biggest jump in eight years and beating expectations of -31. The introduction of a vaccine is thought to have bolstered confidence.
Flutter Entertainment hit by US court ruling
Flutter Entertainment, the owner of Paddy Power Betfair, has been hit with a $870 million judgement by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The court reinstated a ruling it made against The Stars Group back in 2015, which now falls at Flutter’s feet following its purchase of the company last year. Flutter said it ‘is wholly surprised by today's ruling and strongly disputes the basis of this judgement’ but said it expected to pay a ‘limited proportion’ of the judgement in any event.
British Land secures pre-let tenant for Canada Water
British Land said it has completed the drawdown of the 500-year headlease from Southwark Council for Canada Water, a large mixed-use regeneration project. The company said it has also signed-up its first pre-let with a higher education outfit with TEDI-London.
Halma sell Fiberguide Industries
Halma has sold fibre optic technology company Fiberguide Industries to Molex for $38 million in cash. The deal is on a cash and debt-free basis. Halma said the sale was part of the ‘strategy of actively managing its portfolio of global businesses to ensure it is aligned with its purpose and maintains strong growth and returns over the long term.’
Airtel Africa secures licence in Uganda
Telecoms outfit Airtel Africa said it has secured a National Telecom Operator Licence in Uganda. The company said it has paid $74.6 million under the terms of the 20-year licence.
Forex: Dollar bounces back following fresh lows
GBP/USD traded at 1.35467 this morning, down 0.3% compared to 1.35850 at yesterday’s close. Cable hit its highest level since May 2018 on Thursday.
EUR/USD was down 0.1% at 1.22523 from 1.22683 yesterday, when it also hit its highest level since April 2018.
Meanwhile, EUR/GBP traded at 0.90436, up 0.1% from 0.90309.
The most drastic movements in the currency markets this morning, according to data from Reuters, are as follows:
Commodities: Oil slips from nine-month high
Oil prices climbed to fresh highs on Thursday, reaching their highest level since March before giving back some of those gains. Prices have been supported by the rollout of vaccines, which markets hope can lift oil demand next year, and a far steeper drop in US oil inventories this week implying demand has bounced back more than expected. But surging coronavirus cases in many countries has started to weigh on prices again.
Brent traded at $51.31 this morning from $51.49 at the close on Thursday, while WTI had edged down to $48.41 from $48.55.
Gold traded at $1881 in morning trade from $1885 when markets closed yesterday.
Market-moving events in the economic calendar
The economic calendar kicks off with German IFO data at 0900 GMT. There is Russia’s interest rate decision at 1130 GMT. In the afternoon, there is Canada’s retail sales at 1330 GMT.
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