FTSE picks up after a flat open

European shares took their cue Friday from the lower close on Wall Street late Thursday caused by a selloff in key financials and tech stocks, but the FTSE picked itself up after the nearly flat open and began to recover as the market focused again on positive company news from earlier this week.

European shares took their cue Friday from the lower close on Wall Street late Thursday caused by a selloff in key financials and tech stocks, but the FTSE picked itself up after the nearly flat open and began to recover as the market focused again on positive company news from earlier this week.

Friday’s corporate calendar has been fairly thin with earnings only from specialist insurer Beazley and Acacia Mining, both reporting declines in profits. 

Beazley ended up badly hit with shares plunging over 12% after the company said that its first half pretax profit was only about one third of the profit in the same period in the year earlier. 

Barrick Gold-owned Acacia Mining reported a net loss in the second quarter as a dispute with the Tanzanian government is affecting the company’s performance.

Oil prices also rebounded this morning after days of declines as traders worried that Libyan exports, due to restart shortly, would create an oversupply as they hit the market at the same time as increased Russian and Saudi output. But given the sharp decline over a relatively short period prices started to look oversold and buying picked up again.

Trump in a rate shop?

For a few days this week the markets stopped being buffeted by comments from Washington about yet more tariff threats but this temporary calm was shattered late Thursday as President Trump turned his focus on the Federal Reserve and its interest rate decisions. 

Although the Fed is fully independent and free to set interest rates as it sees fit, irrespective of the views of the President, the markets were unable to ignore Trump’s comment that he’s not happy with the Fed’s raising of interest rates and that the central bank is working at cross purposes with his administration’s economic program. 

This year the Fed has already increased rates twice and plans another two increases before the end of the year. So far the dollar has held up despite the comments, trading marginally stronger against the pound and the euro and only a touch weaker against the yen and the Canadian dollar.

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