Markets

European markets close higher as Powell prepares markets for tapering; Just Eat Takeaway down 7.5%

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Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended up around 0.4%, with mining stocks climbing 2% to lead gains, while utilities stocks fell 0.4%.
  • Developments in Afghanistan are also on the radar, after the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan killed 13 U.S. service members and wounded 18.

LONDON — European markets closed higher on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the central bank was likely to begin withdrawing some of its easy-money policies before year-end.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended up around 0.4%, with mining stocks climbing 2% to lead gains, while utilities stocks fell 0.4%.

The European blue chip index began Friday's session roughly unchanged from where it started the week, with markets in suspended animation ahead of the Jackson Hole meeting.

Markets in Asia-Pacific were similarly mixed on Friday, while U.S. stock futures inched fractionally higher after the major Wall Street indexes snapped multi-day winning streaks on Thursday.

Stateside, stocks rose as Powell prepared markets for the central bank to pull back on some of its monetary stimulus. The three major stock averages were all on track to close out the week in positive territory.

Fed in focus

Speaking ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium, Alan Levenson, chief U.S. economist at T. Rowe Price, said markets should not expect any big surprises from Powell's speech, or deviation from the Fed's previous messaging that tapering is likely to commence later this year or early 22, depending on economic conditions.

"In my view, 'advance notice' will come at the conclusion of the 22 September FOMC meeting, followed by the formal announcement on 3 November that the pace of asset purchases will be reduced in December – assuming the labor market recovery continues to meet the Fed's expectations," Levenson said.

"In this context, Chair Powell's message will open the door to 'advance notice' on 22 September, without committing to any course of action."

Developments in Afghanistan are also on the radar, after the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan killed 13 U.S. service members and wounded 18. President Joe Biden has vowed to hunt down ISIS leaders responsible for the attacks.

On the economic data front, French consumer confidence pulled back fractionally in August, the INSEE official statistics agency said on Friday. The monthly consumer confidence index slipped to 99 from 100 in July.

Just Eat Takeaway shares slipped 7.5% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600, after the New York City Council passed a bill capping commissions charged to restaurants by delivery apps.

Toward the top of the index, Switzerland's Siegfried added 2.4%.

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