European Shares Lack Direction

European stocks struggled for direction on Thursday as investors reacted to soft U.S. data released overnight and the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting.

Many Fed members favored enhanced bond-buying guidance fairly soon, but didn’t see a need for immediate adjustments.

The dollar held at the lowest level in more than two years as investors reacted to a slew of data showing the first back-to-back rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims since July, an uptick in durable goods orders and a widening trade deficit.

The pan European Stoxx 600 was virtually unchanged at 392.05 after finishing marginally lower the previous day.

The German DAX and France’s CAC 40 index were marginally higher, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 0.3 percent despite a narrow fall in the value of the pound.

British finance minister Rishi Sunak said today that a Brexit deal was preferable but that London should not stretch for an accord at any cost.

In stock-specific action, Rmy Cointreau rose half a percent. After reporting a fall in profit for the first half of fiscal 2021, the French spirits maker projected a recovery in the second half of the year.

Mulberry Group shares jumped nearly 10 percent. The British luxury brand reported a narrowed loss for the first half of fiscal 2021.

Insurer Aviva was declining after announcing plans to cut dividend by a third.

In economic releases, German consumer sentiment deteriorated notably due to the partial lockdown, survey results from the market research group GfK showed.

The forward-looking consumer sentiment index fell to -6.7 in December from revised -3.2 in October. The expected reading was -5.0.

U.K. car production logged a double-digit decline in October as the auto sector eagerly awaits Brexit agreement, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders said.

Car production plunged 18.2 percent year-on-year in October. Only 110,179 units left factory gates in October due to the impact of coronavirus and fresh lockdowns at home and abroad.

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