European equity markets ended fairly mixed on Wednesday, with CAC, DAX and the London benchmark finishing in negative territory, while IBEX managed to post strong gains.
Defensive stocks weighed on market sentiment in today’s trading session. Sainsbury’s posted a cautious outlook about its sales forecast guidance for 2014 and dropped lower by 2.4%. Tesco also followed the downtrend, falling by 1%. Utility shares have also declined with Centrica, National Grid and Severn Trent retreating between 1.15% and 2.15%.
It seems that renewed concerns about a possible smoking ban in China added pressure to tobacco companies today. Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco plunged by 2.9% and 0.97%, respectively.
On the macroeconomic front, Eurozone’s retail sales increased by 1.4% in November, beating analysts’ expectations, while unemployment rate in the region remained unchanged at 12.1% in November. Furthermore, German exports rose by 0.3% slightly below analysts’ estimates.
The US ADP national employment report showed the US employment increased by 238,000 jobs in the private sector, beating expectations and showed optimism about the current US employment conditions ahead of the crucial non-farm payroll report on Friday. The US dollar continued its strong upside momentum as the USD index remained strong above 81.0 area.
The release of the FOMC minutes this evening could provide further signs about the US economic prospects. Tomorrow, investors’ attention will turn to the US weekly jobless claims as well as the Eurozone’s consumer sentiment report and ECB rate decision.