London, New York stocks set records as pound suffers

New York

Stocks in London and New York hit record highs on Friday while European and Asian equities struggled.
Oil prices stabilized, after plunging almost five percent on Thursday, when investors reacted negatively to an OPEC decision leaving crude production limits unchanged.
The major Wall Street indices fluctuated in and out of positive territory during most of Friday’s sluggish session before finishing essentially flat ahead of a three-day holiday weekend in the United States.
US stocks nevertheless held onto gains won after six straight days of rallying—meaning the hair’s-breadth gains were all that was necessary to see the tech-rich Nasdaq and broad-based S&P 500 break Thursday’s all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a fraction while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 both rose by less than a tenth of a point.
Investors in New York also appeared unmoved by fresh economic data which showed the US economy was stronger in the first quarter than first reported, but that sales of durable goods fell for the first time in five months.
“We had a little bit of bounce in oil from yesterday. The factor today is that no one is really committing to do much of anything before the long weekend,” said Peter Cardillo of First Standard Financial.
Meanwhile in London, stocks hit record highs after the pound took a beating on an opinion poll surprise two weeks before Britain’s general election.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.4 percent to close at 7,547.63 points, having hit a record 7,554.21 points during the afternoon.
The British pound fell against the dollar after a Yougov opinion poll put the opposition Labor Party just five points behind the ruling Conservatives before a June 8 general election.
That raised concerns the government’s victory might not be as big as expected, which could weaken its hand in Brexit talks.
On the Continent, Frankfurt and the EURO STOXX 50 were down while Paris was flat.
“Broader European markets have continued to struggle despite economic data which to all intents and purposes points to a continued improvement in economic activity across the whole of Europe,” said market analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets
Oil prices stabilized posted healthy gains, with a barrel of benchmark crude for July delivery adding 90 cents in New York.
The gains came after Thursday’s five percent plunge on trader disappointment with OPEC’s latest output cut deal, which failed to tightening current production limits.
Europe’s energy sector shrugged off the market’s OPEC-inspired volatility but in New York Exxon and Chevron both fell 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
“The large cap oil stocks have not moved as much as I would have thought,” said Will Hamlyn, investment analyst at Manulife Asset Management.
“The reason is that these companies… are really changing their business models to be able to cope with a much lower oil price.” —AFP

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