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Europe close: Traders cautious, ECB's Draghi broaches need for higher spending

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Friday 21 Jun 2019

Europe close: Traders cautious, ECB's Draghi broaches need for higher spending

(Sharecast News) - Stock markets across the Continent finished the session little changed with traders wary of pushing their luck going into the weekend and the G-20 leaders' summit in Osaka, Japan, scheduled for the following week.
Nevertheless, strategists at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch were relatively sanguine heading into the 28-29 June G-20 meeting, telling clients that: "Trump prefers to be "Jobs President" not "Tariff President"; steel first industry to receive tariff protection; US Steel factory closure, slump in Philly Fed, rising joblesss claimsin battleground state Pennsylvania suggests G20 trade war escalation unlikely."

To take note of, at a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, Bloomberg reported that European Central Bank chief, Mario Draghi, had warned that in case of a deterioration in the outlook fiscal policy would need to become much more expansionary than currently projected in 2020.

By the end of trading, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was down by 0.36% to 384.76, alongside a dip of 0.13% to 12,339.92 for the German Dax while Spain's Ibex 35 was ahead by 0.20% to 9,227.20.

Across the Pond, Wall Street's main benchmark gauges were a tad lower, although in Asia stocks put in their best week since January, with analysts divided on the staying power of recent gains in stock markets.

"In spite of all of this exuberance it should be noted that the US Russell 2000 has been unable to get remotely close to the record levels of last year, which would appear to suggest that this risk rally is more selective than most, with investors focusing more on the bigger cap stocks," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Strategists at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch on the other hand were telling clients: "The "fat pitch": Fed dovish + no G20 trade war escalation means stay long risk; "fat pitch" in H2 = short US dollar [...] everyone believes that 2% on the US Treasury is a rational price, and 3000 on the S&P500 is an irrational price."

To take note of, Friday was set to be quadruple witching day on Wall Street, with futures and options for individual stocks and indices all set to expire.

Technology was one of the weaker segments of the market, with the Stoxx 600's technology sub-index down by 0.36% to 88.55 after chip maker IQE said it was "operating in an increasingly cautious marketplace".

In anticipation of a weak second half, the company cut its full-year sales forecast to between £140.0-160.0m (consensus: £175.0m) and with managament saying it had "recently received a reduction in forecasts from a number of chip customers, in Wireless and also in Photonics."

Also weighing on sentiment were reports that overnight the US administration had initially approved air strikes against targets in Iran but later opted not to carry through on those plans, leaving open the question of whether they might be revived.

Against that backdrop, and ahead of the next OPEC ministers' meeting, front month Brent crude oil futures added 1.11% to $65.17 a barrel on the ICE.

Elsewhere on the economic front, IHS Markit's composite output gauge for the Eurozone's factory and services sectors printed at 52.1 in June - a seven-month high - against a reading of 51.8 for May (consensus: 52.0).

"Concerns about weaker economic growth at home and in export markets, rising geopolitical risks and trade wars continue to dominate the picture and dampen business spending, investment and sentiment," IHS Markit's chief business economist, Chris Williamson said.

Elsewhere, Italian deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, threatened on Friday to leave the government unless he was able to clinch tax cuts worth €10.0bn, Corriere della Sera reported.

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