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MARKET WRAP: FTSE edges lower, GBP/USD above 1.35

© Reuters.

Key Points

FTSE 100 closing price of 7,406.24 (-0.2%)
Quiet trade with Omicron in focus
GBP edges higher, GBP/USD breaches 1.3500
Crude reverses losses
Bitcoin treads water below $50K

By Samuel Indyk – The FTSE 100 edged lower on Thursday in quiet trading conditions. Focus remains on COVID-19 with the Omicron variant leading to record daily case numbers across the globe, however, hospitalisations have still not shown signs of spiking as they did in earlier waves, suggesting that the variant is causing less severe illness.

Data was thin on the ground in Europe although the weekly jobless claims data from the US showed just 198,000 people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time in the week ending 25th December. The 4-week moving average dropped to 199,250, the lowest level since October 1969.

GBP edged higher in quiet trade with GBP/USD trading above 1.3500 for the first time since 10th November. On the data front, UK house prices were shown to have increased 1.0% in December from November, according to Nationwide. The average price of a property was a record £254,822.

WTI and Brent crude futures had been trading lower in early trade with focus on news that China had cut its import quotas for the first period in 2022. Beijing granted 109 million tons of crude in the first set of import allowances, down 11% from the same period at the start of this year.

However, crude reversed gains and traded higher towards the end of the European afternoon with focus remaining on yesterday’s inventory data which showed a decline in US crude and gasoline stockpiles in the latest week.

Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies were treading water heading towards the new year. The world’s largest cryptocurrency was hovering around $47,500 after earlier finding support at the psychological $46,000 level.


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MARKET WRAP: FTSE edges lower, GBP/USD above 1.35

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