European markets started on the front foot today, helped by a positive Asia session, but as the day has gone on the early strong gains have slowly started to ebb away, despite broadly positive economic data from both sides of the Atlantic.
A better than expected German ZEW survey for August has helped underpin the Dax but it hasn't been enough to push it beyond the highs this month, above 8,450, while US retail sales for July came in at 0.2%, slightly below expectations, but not by enough to discourage speculation about a possible September tapering of asset purchases by the Federal Reserve.
Today's gains have been predominantly broad based with the mining sector doing well, helped by continued outperformance from Mexican miner Fresnillo as it makes its fifth consecutive day of gains after UBS initiated coverage of the stock with a "buy" recommendation.
Also feeling the wind at its back is oil field services company Wood Group after having its target price raised by Investec to 900p.
Floundering near the bottom of the benchmark index is insurance group Old Mutual slipping back after Nomura downgraded the stock from "buy" to "neutral" after the move higher seen in the last couple of days.
US markets opened slightly higher this morning after the latest retail sales numbers for July failed to provide any certainty with respect to future direction of US monetary policy
Retail sales for July came in at 0.2%, below expectations of 0.3%, though the June number was revised up from 0.4% to 0.6%.
In company news Blackberry shares
are once again expected to be in focus after yesterday's news that the company was putting itself up for sale.
JC Penney's shares have also been whipping around on the news that shareholder Bill Ackman was quitting the board.
Yum Brands had that sinking feeling after announcing that it expected a 13% drop in same store sales in July from its operations in China.
The US dollar has started to gain traction again today across the board, particularly against the Japanese yen, helped by another positive month for US retail sales. US treasury yields have pushed higher, heading back to the highs seen at the beginning of the month as speculation about a September taper continues to be supportive.
The dollar has also risen against the Swiss franc, and the commodity currencies of the New Zealand, Australian and Canadian dollar.
The pound has managed to hold up better than most after the latest inflation data showed a small moderation in pricing pressures coming in at 2.8% for July, down slightly from 2.9%, while evidence of an economic recovery on the back of rising house prices continues to act as support.
Tapering speculation has knocked gold prices back from their recent highs after failing to move beyond the highs seen in July at $1,347.
Crude oil prices have remained subdued despite the brighter economic data from Europe and the US, putting to one side concerns about supply pinches in Libya, with US prices slipping back from one week highs on taper talk and a stronger US dollar. Brent prices are slightly higher.
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