European stocks fell as investors pulled back from multi-year highs after yesterday's OPEC agreement on production limits and kept a stern eye on political developments in the United States in the final day of the trading week.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.28% lower at 391.06 points as benchmarks around single currency area drifted lower, albeit in thin volumes owing to a so-called "bridge day" between Thursday's Ascension Day observances and the coming weekend.
Britain's FTSE 100, however,gained0.26% to hit a fresh record high of 7,535.06 points as the benchmark got a boost from the weakening pound. Sterling has fallen more than 1% against the U.S. dollar over the past two sessions amid evidence of slowing economic growth from the Office for National Statistics and new polling data which shows a steep erosion in support for Prime Minister Theresa May heading into next month's snap election.
In the first survey of voters released since the deadly terrorist attack in Manchester earlier this week that killed at least 22 people and injured more than 60 others at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert, polling expert YouGov said May's Conservative Party holds only a 5-point lead over their Labour Party rivals, lead by Jeremy Corbyn, down from 9 points last week.
"It has been a highly unusual few days in an election campaign, arguably unlike any other in history," YouGov said. "There is no way of guessing what will happen in the two weeks to polling day but we will be able to be more confident about how voting intention settles down over the next few days."
The pound was marked 0.5% lower against the dollar at 1.2875 in early European trading after having hit a two-week low of 1.2860 overnight in Asia, the weakest since May 12. The cross rate between the pound and the European single currency, meanwhile, traded at a two-month low of 1.1487.
Global oil prices, however, are starting to edge higher in European trading after extended declines overnight after OPEC's decision yesterday in Vienna to extend an agreement among members and some non-member countries, including Russia, that removes 1.8 million barrels of oil from the market each day for a further 9 months.
WTI futures for July delivery were marked 0.54% higher at $49.1 by 09:15 BST while Brent contracts for the same month, the global benchmark, were seen 0.454% lower at $51.74
The broader implication for the decision could suggest that OPEC ministers don't think a deeper cut would have been supported by customers in an economic sense, and thus may have resulted in slowing dollar revenues for cartel member states, many of which rely heavily on oil exports.
The bearish bet on the global economy trimmed stocks in Asia overnight, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slipping 0.2% -- albeit from a 2-year high -- and Japan's Nikkei 225 falling 0.6% to 19,686.84 points to record its second consecutive session decline.
Early indications from U.S. futures prices suggest a modest bump higher on Wall Street Friday, with small gains priced in to both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500, the latter of which printed its second-consecutive all-time high Thursday when it closed at 2,415.07 points.
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