European stocks look set to book modest gains Thursday in a quiet trading session that focused on oil and currency markets amid Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.
The broadest measure of European shares, the Stoxx 600 index, added around 0.16% on the session, helping lift regional benchmarks into the green by the end on of the trading day. London's FTSE 100 recorded a small 0.1% gain while Frankfurt's DAX index added 0.16% and France's CAC-40 rose 0.1%.
The ongoing rise of the U.S. dollar overshadowed both foreign exchange and financial markets around the world Thursday, even with markets in America closed for the traditional Thanksgiving observance. The dollar was little-changed on the session, but still managed to flirt with 14-year highs and traded at 101.64 against a basket of six global currencies as the session drew to a close.
Oil markets largely shrugged off the currency's strength as traders extended bets on a production cut at next week's OPEC meeting in Vienna. Such an agreement, if agreed, would be the first since 2008 and likely trim oil output by 1.6%.
Brent crude prices, the global benchmark, for delivery in January rose 0.1% to $49.91 per barrel while WTI futures for the same month on Nymex added 0.18% to change hands at $48.15.
Bond markets in Europe saw thin volumes throughout the session, but still managed to move on various headline developments in the region, including a slight drop in business expectations in Germany and a caution from the European Central Bank over "significant" vulnerabilities to the region's financial stability owing to global political uncertainty.
The most closely watched measure of German business sentiment held steady in November, as companies were less optimistic about the future while feeling better than predicted about the current situation.
The CES Ifo Business Climate index came in at 110.4 points in November, stable from October, after Ifo revised down the original 110.5 reading, which was the highest since April 2014.
Capital Economics ' Jack Allen said the index remains at "a fairly high level, suggesting that the economy might have gathered some pace towards the end of the year."
The German economy expanded by a disappointing 0.2% in the third quarter, updated numbers out Thursday confirmed. But Allen said the Ifo data were consistent with November's composite purchasing managers' index for Germany, which pointed to 0.5% fourth-quarter GDP growth.
Benchmark 10-year German bunds traded fell two basis points to 0.26% by the end of the session, while 10-year Italian government bonds fell around 7 basis points to 2.07% as traders bet the ECB would extend its €1.5 trillion quantitative easing program beyond its March 2017 deadline.
Gold continued to take a beating Thursday, falling below $1,190 an ounce to a 10-month low, extending a November-slide that has wiped almost 10% off its value.
Generic gold futures for delivery in February fell as as low as $1,184.3 Thursday, their lowest point since February, as the near certainty of a Federal Reserve rate increase next month and the strong dollar weighed on gold prices.
"Gold's attempt to build a base above $1,200 was rudely interrupted," IG markets Chris Beauchamp noted Thursday. "With the price now below this key support we could see a move towards $1,100."