WORLDWIDE shares remained unchanged Friday following stocks’ record-setting highs as traders cautiously positioned themselves for the final day of trading for the month, with markets bracing for the outcome of the European Central Bank policy meeting.
The MSCI global equity index which monitors stocks in 45 geographical locations, fell 0.04 percent after posting a new record high earlier in the trading as investors prepared to protect themselves from any possible negative outcome from the ECB, which is widely anticipated to ease policy on June 5.
According to Munich-based UniCredit equity planner Christian Stocker, “the market will hold at current levels until the ECB meeting next week.”
Stocker added that “should the ECB disappoint the market, then I expect a negative reaction and equities will run into a consolidation that could hold in the summer months.”
The Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 plunged 0.1 percent, with BNP Paribas leading the index lower following a report that said the U.S. Justice Department was pressuring the French bank to pay over $10 billion to resolve a criminal investigation. Shares of BNP were down 4.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the DAX of Germany moderately exceeded the broader market after figures indicated that German year-on-year retail sales soared at their strongest level last month since June 2012 as Easter fell later this year compared to the last.
In the European bond market, blue chip Bunds were moderately lower, tracking Treasuries 10-year U.S. debt yielded 2.477 percent, up from the U.S. close of 2.447 percent but still near its lowest mark since last June as markets increased bets that the Federal Reserve will not start increasing interest rates any time soon.
In currencies, the euro was unchanged at $1.3605, not far from Thursday’s 3-month low of $1.3586. The USD index, which monitors the currency versus a host of six major rivals, eased slightly to 80.462.