Wall Street drifted lower, taking a breather after a record-breaking run

London (AFP) - Europe’s stock markets held steady Thursday as tensions eased over Catalonia and Wall Street drifted lower after its latest record-busting performance.

Frankfurt and London pushed moderately higher while Paris and Madrid had modest losses, while the euro conceded ground to the dollar.

“European equity markets are mixed in afternoon action, with global economic optimism continuing and appearing to overshadow elevated expectations of another rate hike in December out of the US,” analysts at the Charles Schwab brokerage said.

US central bankers are sharply divided over whether to increase interest rates again this year amid persistently weak inflation, but some would prefer a hike, according to minutes released Wednesday.

British banking giant HSBC slipped 0.4 percent after announcing it had promoted head of its retail operations John Flint to the post of chief executive.

“Neither the buyers nor the sellers seem able to gain a lasting advantage, with the lack of concrete newsflow not helping matters,” said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

Spanish shares had surged Wednesday after Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for independence to be suspended to allow for talks with the Spanish government.

Asian indices mostly rose again on Thursday, boosted by another record showing in New York on Wednesday with confidence high heading into the earnings season.

The US stock market has enjoyed a record-breaking bull run since March 2009 on the back of ultra-low Federal Reserve interest rates.

The bumper stock gains have continued this year despite two Fed rate hikes – and the increasing prospect of another in December.

- Trump bounce? -

President Donald Trump’s election last year meanwhile sparked hopes that his planned tax reforms would breathe new life into the US economy.

Analysts have mixed opinions on the so-called Trump bounce – with some cautious over his legislative programme and North Korea policy.

Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said the recent passage of a US budget bill had left him confident that Trump would be able to push through key tax and spending plans, which would give a further lift to markets.

“The question is not if, but when,” he said in a note to clients.

“The tax reforms and planned infrastructure spend are going to be the biggest catalysts for inflation and jobs growth in the US.”

While US-North Korea tensions rumble on in the background, trading floors remain positive following a series of upbeat readings across global economies that have helped equities hit multi-year highs.

Tokyo’s Nikkei closed up 0.4 percent on Thursday to strike a fresh 21-year high.

- Key figures around 1350 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,554.33 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 12,981.17

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,354.68

Madrid - IBEX 35: UP 0.2 percent at 10,256.70

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,602.80

New York - DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 22,838.81

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 20.954.72 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 28459.03 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,386.10 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1842 from $1.1864 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3145 from $1.3225

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.35 yen from 112.50 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 81 cents at $56.13 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1 at $50.30

burs-jh/adm