European markets are still mixed as we approach the close.
Geopolitical tensions have subsided a little, but confidence hasn’t been fully restored. The Syrian situation is still at the forefront of traders’ minds. Russia remain in the US’ bad books, and the possibility of a trade war is still simmering away in the background. Until these issues have been resolved, investors are likely to remain cautious about being long.
Sage Group shares took a knock today after the company lowered its full-year guidance. The forecast was trimmed to 6.3% from 7.4%, and the company cited an ‘inconsistent operational execution’ for the reason behind the reduced forecast. There were some slippages with US and Middle Eastern contracts, and the company stated it will be resolved in the second half. Sage’s cloud computing division continues to grow at a rapid rate, with a 57% jump in revenue. The share price hit an all-time high in January and since then has sold off severely. While the stock remains below 720p (200-day moving average), its outlook is likely to be negative.
Hammerson shares are in the red after French group Klepierre walked away from the takeover bid. Kelpierre approached Hammerson last month, revising up its offer, but the French firm has now decided to give up on its acquisition attempt. Hammerson’s share price has been in decline for over three years, as concerns about Brexit and declining footfall at retail centres weighs on sentiment. If the bearish trend continues it could target 400p.
US indices are in the red after starting off the session on a positive note. Impressive figures from major banks failed to keep the equity benchmark in positive territory. Uncertainty over geopolitical issues is also weighing on market sentiment.
Citigroup, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo all reported first-quarter figures, and all exceeded earnings per share and revenue forecasts. A common theme across the sector was that revenue from trading was well received – it has been disappointing for a number of years, but the tax cut from President Trump helped earnings rise. Despite the good numbers, all the banks share prices are lower. JP Morgan’s share price has held up the best recently, and it is still comfortably above its 200-day moving average.
It has been a quiet day in terms of news. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey slid to 97.8, down from 102 in March, while economists were expecting a reading of 100.5. It is worth noting that the March reading was the highest in over a decade, so the consumer environment is still very strong. The job openings and labour turnover summary for February came in at 6.05 million, down from the multi-year high of 6.23 million in January.
German inflation jumped to 1.6% in March – meeting forecasts, and that compared with a 1.4% rate in February. There was a muted reaction to the numbers. Spanish CPI also ticked up, and when you take into consideration the rise in French inflation yesterday, it is clear there is inflationary pressure in the eurozone.
There were no major economic announcements from the UK today, but GBP/USD managed to drive higher, and reach a level not seen since late January. The pound has been gaining ground versus the US dollar for the past year, and there is market chatter the Bank of England might hike interest rates next month, and that is fuelling the buying.
Gold edged up on the back of the slight weakness in the US dollar. The cooling in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment also helped to nudge gold up. The metal had a volatile week on the back of Saudi Arabia intercepting missiles from Yemen, but it is still in the $1320-$1350 range.
WTI and Brent Crude oil are higher this afternoon and the former has printed a fresh 41-month high. The uncertainty surrounding Syria, and heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the main drivers of the oil market.
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