European stock markets posted mixed results on Thursday but the pound gained ground after data showed that Britain had marched smartly out of recession, news that offset a sharp drop in profit at Spanish banking giant Santander.
London’s FTSE 100 index of top companies closed essentially unchanged at 5,805.05 points, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 gained 0.10 per cent to 7,200.23 points and in Paris the CAC 40 fell by 0.44 per cent to 3,411.53.
In London, Gekko Global Markets trader Anita Paluch said that “very strong growth in the UK GDP, not seen in five years, has confirmed the double dip recession is over.
“Although the growth was expected, the numbers published have exceeded all expectations and cheered up the market.”
Britain, which is not part of the eurozone, has pulled out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s, and its economy returned to growth in the third quarter with a robust gain of 1.0 per cent, the data showed.
Markets had expected the British economy to expand by 0.6 per cent from the previous three-month period, after falling into a second trough of recession in late last year.
Elsewhere in European trading, Madrid’s IBEX 35 stock index dipped 0.16 per cent to 7,229.20 points after Santander reported a third-quarter profit plunge as it wrote down billions of euros in assets.
Santander’s share price lost 0.59 per cent to 5.75 euros.
In New York, US stocks slipped in midday exchanges even though weekly unemployment claims and durable goods orders were better than expected and Procter & Gamble earnings beat forecasts as well.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off by 0.11 per cent, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell by 0.23 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite was flat.
Stock markets had won some support earlier in the day from rumours that the Bank of Japan and Japanese government were preparing to implement further stimulus measures in the next few days, said ETX Capital trader Markus Huber.
In foreign exchange trading, sterling jumped to US$1.6121 from US$1.6041 late in New York on Wednesday. The euro fell to 0.8037 pounds from 0.8086 pounds, while the European single currency edged down to US$1.2957 from US$1.2972. The dollar gained to 80.04 yen from 79.79 yen.
On the London Bullion Market, gold prices increased to US$1,715.50 an ounce from US$1,706.50 an ounce on Wednesday.
In Tokyo, stocks rose 1.13 per cent, boosted by the weaker yen and speculation of further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, as the world’s third-largest economy struggles to gain traction.
Other Asian stock markets closed mixed overall however after the US Federal Reserve said it would maintain its loose monetary policy until there was stronger evidence that the economy is back on its feet.
On Wednesday the Fed said it would stick to its US$40 billion (€31 billion) a month bond-buying programme -- known as quantitative easing -- for as long as needed and keep interest rates at record lows until at least 2015.
Despite recent figures pointing to an improvement in the US economy -- including in household spending and in the housing market -- the Federal Open Market Committee said growth remained at a “moderate” pace.