Despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the Greek debt crisis, European equity markets managed to edge higher in today’s session with the CAC, DAX, IBEX and the Italian benchmark indices gaining between 0.25% and 1%. However, the London equity benchmark missed the uptrend and slid lower, hovering around 6890. US equities remained under pressure and traded in negative territory following fairly mixed US economic data. The Dow Jones initially dropped nearly 100 points towards 17,920 but has slightly rebounded and the USD index hovered around 94.3 against a basket of currencies.
The unresolved Greece-EU debt issue continues to weigh on market sentiment, limiting any strong upside potential across global equity markets. In the meantime, the European Central Bank approved on Wednesday evening a EUR 3.3 bln increase in emergency loans in order to support the Greek banks. An emergency Euro-group meeting is scheduled tomorrow at 2pm GMT, which could clarify the current situation as European leaders and market participants are looking for a possible agreement regarding the Greek debt issue.
On the macroeconomic front, we received fairly solid US employment data as weekly jobless claims fell to 283,000 last week beating analysts’ expectations of 290,000. However, the Philly Fed business index declined to 5.2 in February compared to 9.0 in January, while the leading index increased slightly by 0.2% in January missing expectations of a 0.3% rise.
Crude oil prices extended sharp declines with Brent front month futures plunging over 2.5% to breach $59 per barrel and WTI front month futures retreating below the key level of $50 per barrel. The release of the weekly EIA oil inventories report showed a large build of 7.7 million barrels in crude oil stocks for the week ending 13th February against analysts’ expectations of a 3.0 million barrels rise.