As the US markets are closed today for President’s Day, trading volumes were fairly thin. European equity markets retreated amid concerns regarding the Greek debt crisis, while investors remain cautious ahead of any decisions coming out from the Euro-group meeting later today. The CAC, DAX, IBEX and London equity benchmark index declined between 0.2% and 0.4%, while the euro hovered around 1.14 against the USD, struggling for clear direction.
On the macroeconomic front, in the UK the Rightmove survey showed UK house prices increased 2.1% m/m in February compared to a 1.4% rise in January, while the y/y figure was down to 6.6% from an 8.2% y/y increase in January. Sterling was trading sideways around 1.535 against the USD, while the US dollar index slid lower to retest 94.0 against a basket of currencies.
In London, retail stocks weighed on market sentiment as Dixons Carphone, Marks and Spencer, Sports Direct and Next retreated between 0.1% and 0.8%. In addition, Morrisons announced price cuts to 130 shopping basket staples, in order to compete with discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl.
The main focus will be on the Euro group’s meeting this evening as market participants are watching for any improving steps regarding the Greek debt issues. We expect high volatility in the coming trading sessions.