European equity markets gave back earlier gains and ended today’s session fairly unchanged. CAC, DAX finished on positive territory, while the London benchmark index ended flat on the day after previously having hit an 8-month high.
It seems that strong gains in retail stocks have been overshadowed by heavy losses in mining stocks as base metals prices slid lower in thin trading conditions ahead of the Chinese New Year.
Unilever surged by 1.76% after reporting earnings results that beat forecasts, spreading an optimistic tone across the UK retail stocks. Associated British Foods climbed higher by 4.23%, while Imperial Tobacco and Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company gained by 2.5% and 2.2%, respectively.
Across the miners, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta retreated sharply more than 3%, while Anglo American, Randgold and BHP Billiton also posted heavy losses following softer base and precious metals prices. Gold declined towards the $1240 area and silver was pegged below $20.
The IMF report raised the global growth forecast for 2014 to 3.7%, compared to 3.6% on a previous estimate, driving the US dollar higher with the USD index trading above 81.1 area.
Tomorrow, investors’ focus will turn to the releases of the UK unemployment rate and Public Sector Net Cash Requirement (PSNCR) data as well as Bank of England’s interest rate decision, which could provide further signs about the UK economic conditions and prospects.