Europe markets search for direction as energy names rise, banks fall

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European markets struggled for direction on the first session after the long Easter weekend, with gains from oil names after as the U.S. ratcheted up pressure on Iranian crude output. Banks tugged in the other direction.

How are markets performing?

The Stoxx 600












SXXP, -0.03%










 was flat at 390.19, after gaining 0.2% on Thursday, its last session before the Friday to Monday Easter break.

Germany’s DAX












DAX, -0.10%











DAX, +0.00%










 was moderately down, falling 0.1% to 12,204.97, following Thursday’s gain of 0.6%.

Elsewhere, in Italy, the FTSE MIB












I945, -0.34%










 fell 0.3% and France’s CAC 40












PX1, +0.00%










 gave back gains to the tune of 0.1%.

The U.K. pound












GBPUSD, -0.2234%










 bounced back somewhat by 0.2% to $1.3009, having closed Thursday down nearly 0.6%. The FTSE 100












UKX, +0.61%










 recovered 0.4% to 7,489.6 after falling 0.2% in Thursday’s trading.

What’s moving the markets?

Commodity related stocks rose after the U.S. on Monday said it would cease to allow countries from importing Iranian oil, deciding not to renew waivers, set to terminate May 2, which were granted to countries including China, India and Turkey. The tightened restrictions could take over 1 million barrels of Iranian supply off the market a day, a boost for prices as the White House ratchets up pressure on Tehran following the implementation of sanctions in November.

June Brent crude












LCOM9, +0.12%










the global benchmark, was up 7 cents to $74.21 a barrel, but jumped to nearly six month highs on Monday. West Texas Intermediate crude for June












CLM9, +0.46%










the international benchmark, added 15 cents to $65.60 a barrel.

Brexit news was expected to return to a high pitch after the end of the Easter holidays, with focus turning to plots by rebellious Conservative party members to oust U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. The Telegraph reported that May has been given until June 12 to step down, or else there may be attempts to change party rules which currently prohibit leadership challenges for a year after one has taken place. May’s last challenge was in December, which she survived.

Which stocks are active?

The change in oil prices following U.S.-Iran oil ban news was the key driver of shares on Tuesday. The winners from the deal included oil majors Royal Dutch Shell












RDSA, +2.11%










  , which rose 1.8%, and BP PLC












BP., +2.38%










up 2.2%, as well as smaller firms Lundin Petroleum












LUPE, +4.52%










  which jumped 5% and Tullow Oil Plc












TLW, +2.77%










  up around 3%.

By contrast, those hit hardest by the threat of rising fuel costs were the airlines. EasyJet Plc












EZJ, -3.65%










  was down 3.6%, Air France SA












AF, -6.21%










  off 6% and Ryanair Holdings Plc












RY4C, -4.24%










  was down 3.6%.

Barclays Plc was stung by a report in the FT that the U.K. bank would cut bonuses for its investment bankers, sending shares down 1.8%












BARC, -1.90%










 . The move was seen as part of a broader cost-cutting drive as an assault by activist investor Edward Bramson was expected to reach fever pitch at the bank’s annual meeting on May 2.

The financial sector, as a whole, sagged, with Banco Santander SA












SAN, -1.46%











SAN, -1.42%










 down 1.4% and BNP Paribas SA












BNP, -1.60%










 losing 1.6%.

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