US stocks advance, Europe retreats

·3-min read
US consumers are growing more upbeat about the economy and job prospects, with confidence rebounding to the highest point since the start of the pandemic

US stocks held steady near records on Wednesday following strong jobs data, while European equities faltered.

Private US firms added 692,000 jobs in June, according to payroll services firm ADP. The figures were a big drop from May, but well above economists' expectations.

The report comes ahead of Friday's official monthly employment report, expected to show a gain of 680,000 jobs for June.

"Even with the reminder that today's ADP figure in no way guarantees a strong NFP print on Friday, investors will still be looking for a reasonably-good number ... to provide some confirmation that employment continues to recover at a reasonable pace," said market analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading platform IG.

"Indeed, today's report still fell into the Goldilocks category, since it is moving in the right direction, but not at an overly-speedy pace, which explains the positive reaction from US stocks in early trading," he added.

The Dow was up 0.4 percent in late morning trading. The S&P 500 nudged higher while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dipped.

Wednesday's trading session will be the last of a strong second quarter for equities, bolstered by signs of a recovering economy and reassurances from central bankers that accommodative policies will not be removed too quickly.

The Dow is on track for a gain of around 3.6 percent for the quarter, the S&P 500 roughly eight percent and the Nasdaq 9.6 percent.

In Europe, the main markets swerved lower on Wednesday.

The London stock market shed 0.7 percent after data showed the Covid-hit British economy shrank by slightly more than expected in the first quarter before a subsequent easing of lockdown restrictions.

Gross domestic product contracted by 1.6 percent in the three months to March, down from the previous estimate of 1.5 percent.

Frankfurt dived 1.0 percent and Paris dropped 0.9 percent.

European equities still had a decent quarter, with London's FTSE 100 rising 4.8 percent and the CAC 40 in Paris jumping 7.2 percent higher.

The DAX 30 rose 3.4 percent having set new record highs.

Elsewhere, Asian equities mostly rose as investors were buoyed by optimism over a strong economic recovery, despite ongoing fears over rising global virus infections.

Oil prices climbed Wednesday on hopes for upbeat demand as traders await Thursday's meeting of OPEC and other key crude producers.

Both main oil contracts are sitting around multi-year highs, helped by an American Petroleum Institute report that US stockpiles had fallen last week. That indicated strengthening demand in the world's biggest crude consuming nation.

- Key figures at 1530 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 34,427.70 points

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.0 percent at 4,066.47

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 7,037.47 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.0 percent at 15,531.04 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.9 percent at 6,507.83 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,791.53 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.6 percent at 28,827.95 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,591.20 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1855 from $1.1897 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3813 from $1.3836

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.84 pence from 85.98 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.94 yen from 110.53 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $75.04 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $73.22 per barrel


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