European stocks were mixed in surprisingly solid volume Thursday as investors grappled with the biggest decline for the U.S. dollar in five months after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last rate decision revealed concern over the pace of inflation and much stronger-than-expected private sector economic data.
The euro jumped more than a point against the beaten-down greenback to trade at 1.1843 after both the dovish Fed minutes from Wednesday and a stronger-than-expected readings of private sector economic activity in France and Germany and the broader currency area. The gains held down benchmarks across the region as export stocks sank, pulling the DAX performance index 0.25% into the red but helping lift France's CAC-40 by around 0.17%.
Europe's economy is heading into the final months of the year riding its hottest pace of growth since 2011, according to private data published Thursday, with job creation and price increases supporting the region's recovery and potentially altering the European Central Bank's policy outlook over the medium-term.
IHS Markit's benchmark Composite PMI reading of economic activity around the currency area rose to 57.5 this month, well ahead of the 56.0 reading recorded in October and the fastest pace of growth since April 2011. Readings in France and Germany, the regions two biggest economies, were also well ahead of expectations and translate into a fourth-quarter GDP growth rate of 0.8%, the best in a decade.
Britain's FTSE was also under pressure, falling 0.15% as the pound climbed past the 1.33 mark despite Wednesday's budget statement from the government which trimmed growth forecasts for the next five years and warned of sluggish wage growth and below-trend productivity.
The dollar index, which benchmarks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was marked 0.75% lower at 93.18, the lowest since Oct. 18 and the biggest single-day decline in five months.
Overnight in Asia, the dollar's weakness pumped up regional currencies and kept equity market gains in check, with China's CSI 300 benchmark falling nearly 3% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong marked around 1% lower into the close of trading. Japan's Nikkei 225 was closed for the session, as of course are markets in the United States owing to the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Global oil prices slipped modestly from their near two-year peak in early trading, although support remains in place thanks to a 1.9 million barrel decline in domestic inventories reported Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a major reduction in volume from TransCanada Corp's 590,000 barrel a day Keystone pipeline following a leak in its northwestern United States route.
Brent crude futures contracts for January delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 0.35% lower at $62.95 while WTI futures for the same month were marked 0.3% lower at $57.84 per barrel.
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