European markets were very mixed this morning, fluctuating sharply as the confusion following the U.K.'s vote for Brexit last Thursday continues unabated. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson threw a monkey wrench in all the political calculations of the market by saying he will not after all be standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party and thus for Britain's next prime minister.
Oil was another factor. WTI Crude hung below $50 a barrel, while Brent Crude though still above the $50 mark at $50.25 a barrel was also down on Wednesday's highs.
The main European indices were all back in positive territory again late morning, however. The FTSE 100 was up 0.42% at 6,386.66, while the Dax in Frankfurt was up 0.13% at 9,624.39 and in Paris the Cac 40 was up 0.51% at 4,216.64. On the futures market the S&P 500 mini was up 0.28% at $2,072.50.
Among the biggest risers on the London market were the miners Anglo American (NGLOY) , (AAUKF) , Antofagasta (ANFGF) , (ANFGY) and Glencore (GLCNF) , (GLNCY) , all of which were up over 4%, while the fallers were led by postal service Royal Mail (ROYMF) , (ROYMY) , down over 4% and majority government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) , (RBSPF) down by just less than 4%.
In Italy UniCredit (UNCFF) is up a tad above yesterday's close after the bank indicated it plans to announce a new boss, French banker Jean-Pierre Mustier later today. The bank had fallen earlier this morning by 4.5% and was briefly suspended from trading. It was recently up 0.52% at €1.94.
In Britain, the leadership contest within the ruling Conservative Party became more bitter as Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a leading Brexit campaigner through his hat into the ring. Seen until now as an ally of Johnson, Gove now says he has "come reluctantly to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." The move was followed by a surprise announcement that Johnson himself was not going to stand as leader, in what has previously been seen as a two-horse race between Johnson and the current Home Secretary Theresa May.
May herself made clear that if she wins there will be no new general election and no second referendum to meet the demands of those who want to give British people experiencing a sudden bout of "buyer's remorse" a chance to step back from the brink and reverse the call for exiting the EU. She also made insisted there was "no mandate" following the referendum for accepting the free movement of people from the rest of the EU.
Making the opposite case, though he is obviously not a candidate for the Conservative leadership, is George Soros. The hedge fund manager who famously bet against Britain in the 1992 financial crisis that saw the country drop out of the European Monetary System and thus helped ensure it never adopted the euro, told the European Parliament this morning, he thought the tide of opinion in Britain was changing.
"In a spontaneous response, over four million people petitioned Parliament to hold a second referendum," he said, calling last week's vote a tragedy. "By the time the Parliamentary debate on this petition takes place, it is not inconceivable that more people will have signed the petition than voted for Brexit."
On the economic front Britain's Office of National Statistics said the nation's economy grew 0.4% during the first three months of the year, confirming a previous estimate. It said annual Gross Domestic Product rose by 2%, taking the U.K. economy 7% above its peak before the fincancial crisis in the three months from January to March. The ONS also said the current account deficit stood at £32.6 billion ($43.8 billion) in the first quarter. That's 6.9% of GDP.
German consumers have been spending merrily. Retail sales in Europe's largest economy grew 0.9 per cent in May compared to April on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to Destasis.
In Asia, Taiwan cut its benchmark lending rate from 1.5% to 1.375% as central banks around the world react to post-Brexit volatility. Back in Britain, Bank of England governor Mark Carney will be giving a speech later today, and may have to temper his most pessimistic pre-referendum remarks to avoid talking the economy further down. The bank's next Monetary Policy Committee meeting to discuss the possibility of cutting interest rates is not till next month.