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Europe Stocks Subdued Before Fed Chair Speech

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European stock markets wobbled Friday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell that is expected to reiterate his plan to ramp up US interest rates to fight soaring inflation. online news

London equities edged up despite news that UK domestic energy bills will rocket even higher this year on surging wholesale gas prices as Britain’s cost-of-living crisis worsens.

Yet Frankfurt and Paris stocks slid on fears of a eurozone energy crunch in the coming peak-demand winter as Russia curbs supplies.

Europe’s benchmark Dutch TTF gas contract dipped Friday one day after soaring to 324 euros per megawatt hour, not far from the record high struck in March after key gas producer Russia invaded Ukraine.

All eyes are now on Powell’s remarks later Friday at the annual symposium of top bankers and finance chiefs at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Most expect him to confirm that more hikes are on the way as officials try to bring inflation down from painful highs not seen in four decades.

  • Choosing words carefully –

“I have no doubt Powell will have chosen his words very carefully today, all too aware of the consequences of even the smallest deviation in his intended message,” said OANDA trading platform analyst Craig Erlam.

“It’s a little ridiculous that markets put so much weight on such things but that is the situation we are in and I expect the Fed chair will be very clear in the message he wants to send.”

The key issue now is how much the bank will tighten over the coming months, with expectations for a half-point lift next month, after two three-quarter moves in June and July.

Elsewhere, Asia was buoyed by signs of progress in talks between US and Chinese regulators that could see tech titans including Alibaba and JD.com avoid a delisting in New York.

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Hong Kong enjoyed a surge in tech shares thanks to news that China-US regulatory talks were progressing.

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More than 200 Chinese firms have for months had the threat of a New York delisting hanging over them as they are caught in a wide-ranging row between the world’s two biggest economies.

But reports said Thursday that Beijing had called on top accounting firms to prepare to bring US-listed companies’ audit papers to Hong Kong, to be reviewed by US officials.

US lawmakers set a 2024 deadline for the removal of businesses that do not comply with listing rules and the latest move could provide a big step in avoiding that.

  • Key figures at around 1045 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,483.55 points

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.3 percent at 13,227.02

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,364.56

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,666.09

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 28,479.01 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 3.6 percent at 19,968.38 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 3,246.25 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 32,969.23 points (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $0.9982 from $0.9974 on Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1792 from $1.1832

Euro/pound: UP at 84.65 pence from 84.31 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 136.94 yen from 136.49 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.5 percent at $93.49 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1 percent at $100.44

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