European and US stock markets mostly rose yesterday on advancing oil prices, although Madrid sank on resurgent worries over the Catalan independence crisis, dealers said. Frankfurt and Paris each closed higher, with Frankfurt breaking the 13,000 level again. London dipped 0.1% at 7,526.97 points. Wall Street was higher approaching midday, with the Dow adding 0.2%.
“While European and US markets are seeing small gains, and some fresh highs as a result, the overall feeling has been that of ennui,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG. “This is chiefly down to the impending arrival of big data and corporate earnings later in the week, which promise to replace today’s snooze-fest with a more active period.”
Meanwhile, oil prices rose after Iraqi forces swept across disputed Kirkuk province following soaring tensions over an independence referendum, seizing the governor’s office, key military sites and an oil field. The rapid advance, involving troops, tanks and armoured vehicles, aims to recapture oil and military targets that Kurdish forces took over during the fightback against the Islamic State group.
“There appear to be conflicting reports as to whether production levels have been interrupted but the worry is an exchange of fire could escalate into something more serious,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC markets UK. The rising value of oil boosted the share prices of energy companies, as they tend to earn higher revenues and profits when oil prices are higher. BP stock won 0.1% and Royal Dutch Shell’s ‘A’ share price gained 0.2% in London, while French oil giant Total rose 0.7% in Paris. In the United States, shares in ExxonMobil added 0.3% and Chevron shares rose 0.4%.
In other commodities news, palladium prices soared to the highest level in 16 years, boosted by increased demand for its use in catalytic converters in petrol engines as consumers shift away from diesel vehicles. At about 1030 GMT, the price of palladium hit $1,005.20 per ounce, the highest level since February 2001. In Madrid, the stock market shed 0.8% after Madrid warned Catalonia’s separatist leader that he has only three days left to “return to legality” after he refused to say whether he would follow through on a threat to declare independence from Spain. CMC markets UK’s Hewson said: “It is becoming increasingly likely that whatever the outcome we will probably see the calling of new elections whichever side blinks first, with the only question being around timing.”
In London, medical technology firm Convatec topped the fallers’ board – its share price slumping more than a quarter after the company slashed its revenue growth forecast on chronic supply problems.
EasyJet shares retreated after the British low-cost airline confirmed it was in talks with Air Berlin’s administrators for 25 of the collapsed carrier’s remaining aircraft. Lufthansa had agreed a deal last Thursday to take 81 of Air Berlin’s 144 aircraft and 3,000 of its 8,500 staff. EasyJet stock fell 0.2% in London, while Lufthansa rose nearly 1% in Frankfurt.