Strong euro slams stocks, Dow and dollar hit by Flynn plea

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LONDON: Eurozone stocks slid Friday on the strong euro while the Dow turned lower after news a former senior advisor to US President Donald Trump pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the Russia probe.

As the euro pushed higher, leading eurozone indices slumped following the recent run higher for the single currency.

Eurozone “equity markets are paying the price” for the area’s recovery, said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“Ultimately a stronger economy often translates into a stronger stock market, but for now the rally in the euro is holding them back” as current single currency valuations hurt the share prices of eurozone exporters.

Frankfurt stocks fell 1.3% and Paris 1.0%.

Madden added that sterling had been hit by profit-taking.

“Optimism surrounding the Brexit talks pushed the pound to a two-year high versus the US dollar yesterday, and now we are seeing a pullback,” he said.

The weak pound helped push London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index to small gains for much of the afternoon, but it turned back lower when the pound recovered somewhat as the dollar weakened. The FTSE 100 finished the day down 0.4%.

The Dow climbed at the open of trading from a record close on Thursday despite renewed concern about the fate of US President Donald Trump’s much-hyped tax cut plans.

But it turned lower after former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying over his contacts with Russia, in a dramatic escalation of the FBI’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Leading news commentators said the Flynn developments bring the probe closer to Trump and his family.

Traders were grappling with the rush of news.

“The market is thinking there is probably more in this story,” said Art Hogan of Wunderlich Securities. “The reaction of the market is logical with what is happening.”

Meanwhile there was still uncertainty whether Republicans in the Senate had enough votes to back controversial tax cuts.

A new projection showing the measure would add US$1 trillion (RM4.09 trillion) to the federal deficit, complicating Trump’s argument the cuts would pay for themselves forced discussions into Friday.

Global equities have rallied this year on hopes for Trump’s market-friendly promises of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation, but analysts warn of a sharp sell-off if the plans fall flat.

In Asia on Friday, Tokyo’s main stocks index ended 0.4% higher, back near 25-year peaks after reversing early losses thanks to a weaker yen.

Oil prices climbed a day after OPEC and Russia agreed to extend a cap on oil output by nine months until the end of next year.

The aim is to reduce a global excess in supply that has pushed oil prices lower and left a huge hole in the finances of producer nations, despite making life easier for buyers of crude.

Key figures around 1630 GMT

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4% at 7,300.49 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.3% at 12,861.49 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.0% at 5,316.89 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.2% at 3,527.30

New York – DOW: DOWN 1.2% at 23,988.69

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.4% at 22,819.03 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 29,074.24 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,317.62 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1932 from US$1.1900 at 2150 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3510 from US$1.3536

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.52 yen from 112.57 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP US$1.30 at US$63.93 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP US$1.07 at US$58.47


* USD$1 = RM4.09

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