Dollar regains footing as stock markets sag

 

The dollar regained its footing on Thursday after tanking overnight as US President Donald Trump tried to talk the strong greenback down.

Stock markets meanwhile churned lower with cautious investors unwinding positions in subdued trade before the long Easter holiday weekend.

European equity markets traded near lows after Wall Street came off to a weaker start in a mixed reaction to first-quarter results from heavyweight financials JPMorgan (LSE: JPIU.L - news) , Citigroup (NYSE: C - news) and Wells Fargo (Swiss: WFC-USD.SW - news) .

The European single currency fell back against the dollar, having briefly strengthened after Trump, having overnight tweeted his belief that "economic confidence is soaring", told The Wall Street Journal he was worried about the greenback's strength.

"I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me. But that's hurting -- that will hurt ultimately," Trump, who has talked the dollar down several times since his election, told the paper.

The US unit also posted slight gains against the safe-haven Japanese yen after slumping overnight to a low last seen in November.

- 'Overdone' -

"Trump's comments about a stronger dollar continued to drive trading this Thursday, the reaction being slightly overdone thanks to subdued volumes ahead of the Easter break," Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell told AFP.

European markets London, Frankfurt and Paris will not reopen until Tuesday, while Wall Street will not trade on Friday.

Asian markets were mixed Thursday after Trump also softened his stance on Beijing, easing concerns of a possible trade war, dealers said.

Trump also reversed course on an earlier vow to label Beijing a currency manipulator and slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.

Geopolitical tensions meanwhile continued to weigh on investor sentiment, as ties between the US and Russia turn increasingly frosty over Moscow's backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But Trump's praise for Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday raised hopes of easing friction between the two superpowers over dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme.

And a surge in Chinese exports in March, the largest jump in two years, bolstered hopes that the world's number two economy is getting back on track after a recent slowdown -- it grew last year at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century.

- Oil recovers -

Oil prices recovered after the International Energy Agency said that the world market is "very close to balance" as landmark OPEC-led production cuts are mitigated by rising US supply and slipping worldwide demand growth.

But in its monthly report the IEA also said that oil stockpiles probably rose in the first quarter of the year, rattling investors who worry about an ongoing oil glut despite OPEC's efforts.

Gold continued to sparkle as investors shifted money into safe assets, rising 0.7 percent on the day and taking its rise over the past three months to nearly 7.5 percent.

- Key figures at 1600 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 20,599.61 points

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,327.59 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 12,109.00 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,071.10 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,448.26

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 18,426.84 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 24,261.66 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP less than 0.1 percent at 3,275.96 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0630 from $1.0671 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2519 from $1.2544

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.23 yen from 109.07

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 7 cents at $53.04 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 20 cents at $55.86

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