March 24, 2023

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Early on Friday, European shares remained mixed, capping the last complete trading week of the year, as investors were still on edge over a US fiscal stimulus and a Brexit trade deal. Shares in London climbed higher, boosted by a weaker dollar. Paris slipped and there were little gains in Frankfurt. Market analysts said that the uncertainty about what could happen in the next few days was making investors a bit nervous. There were two factors that would be resolved in the coming days, which are the US stimulus package and the UK-EU deal. There was a 2% gain in Philips, the Dutch health technology company, as it agreed to purchase BioTelemetry, a US cardiac diagnostics and monitoring company, in a deal valued at $2.8 billion. 

The pound was weakened because of a more pessimistic tone to the protracted talks between Britain and the European Union, with only some days to go before the United Kingdom exits the bloc’s single market at the end of the year. The EU said that there were only a few hours left to make a deal, which undermined the domestically focused mid-caps in Britain, as the possibility of trade tariffs in the next year loomed. 

Analysts said that the UK-EU talks were expected to go up the wire because neither side is willing to give in too easily. They said that it was about optics for both, so it could take slightly longer than what people expected. There was a 0.29% drop in the British pound, as it fell off a two-and-a-half-year high that it had reached on Thursday. Among the economic data of the day, there was a 3.8% drop in British retail sales for the month of November because a four-week lockdown in the country closed shops that were selling non-essential products to the people. 

There was a jump in a separate gauge of UK consumer confidence this month, which is the highest in eight years, and this was due to the COVID-19 vaccine program. The mood remained upbeat where global equities are concerned. On Thursday, all major US stock indexes i.e. the S&P500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones, had closed at record highs due to optimism about a COVID-19 stimulus bill. The S&P500 futures, on the other hand, remained flat. Markets also got encouragement from the fact that the US was ready to ship 5.9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that was developed by Moderna and will soon receive regulatory approval. 

Analysts said that even though the current state of the virus was rather bleak, markets were relying on vaccines to aid the country in achieving herd immunity and expect consumer demand to explode in the coming spring. On Friday, there was a decline in Asian shares as it was reported that nearly a dozen Chinese companies were to be added to the blacklist by the United States later in the day. There was a 0.2% decline in Japan’s Nikkei index, which faced strong resistance around 27,000.

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