Europe midday: Juncker calls for free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand
(ShareCast News) - A call from the head of the European Union for further integration between the bloc's members and for trade negotiations to be expanded to include Australia and New Zealand provoked little reaction on Wednesday, likely as such details of his speech were already known.
Delivering his State of the European Union address on Wednesday morning, Jean Claude Juncker also called for the creation of a euro area finance minister and of a European Monetary Fund, both widely considered to be key concessions from Germany to France in exchange for reforms in the area's second-biggest economy.
Against that backdrop, as of 1200 BST the benchmark Stoxx 600 was off by 0.23% or 0.85 points at 380.57, alongside a gain of 0.02% or 2.06 points for the German Dax to 12,525.19 and a rise of 0.18% or 40.79 points to 22,273.64 on the FTSE Mibtel.
Meanwhile, investors were digesting much weaker than expected UK wage data for July and 'dovish' remarks from Reserve Bank of Australia governing board member Ian Harper overnight.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Harper said economic growth wasn't strong enough to justify an interest rate increase - even as the Aussie dollar strengthened.
Those fresh references came as investors perused the latest readings on inflation in the single currency bloc.
Also in the background, there was keen interest on the news-flow surrounding the possibility of tax reforms in the States, with strategists at Citi and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch having recently identified it as a key factor affecting the outlook for government bond yields in the US.
Indeed, according to analysts the previous day's gains for stocks in Wall Street were helped by just such a prospect.
"The positive momentum was also helped by comments from US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that the US administration was still looking to get some measure of tax reform in place by year end, while there was chatter that Congress was looking at a compromise reduction from the current 35% corporate tax rate to a rate of 23%," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Overnight, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated at a conference hosted by CNBC and Institutional Investor that he expected tax reforms to be in place before the current year was out and that they might be made retroactive to 1 January.
Linked to all of the above - particularly for the extremely short-term trading outlook - would be employment data due out later in the morning in the UK amd producer price figures Stateside (with US CPI data due on Thursday).
Geopolitical news was also in focus on Wednesday, after Mnuchin told assistants at the same event that his country would respond if China did not abide by the sanctions which had been approved the day before against North Korea.
For its part, according to North Korea's KCNA news agency, "the DPRK will redouble the efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country's sovereignty and right to existence and to preserve peace and security of the region by establishing the practical equilibrium with the US."
Back in all things Eurozone, German consumer price inflation advanced at a 1.8% year-on-year pace last month, in-line with a preliminary reading released on 30 August, according to the Ministry of Finance.
So-called 'core' inflation on the other hand did dip from 1.7% in July to 1.6% for August, although analysts at Pantheon Macroeconomics pointed out that lead indicators were signalling a rise over the next six to 12 months.
Meanwhile, August's increase in the cost of living in Spain was confirmed by the country's statistics office at 2.0% year-on-year for the harmonised CPI.
In parallel, Eurostat reported that the rate of growth in euro area employment ticked lower in the second quarter of 2017 from 0.5% for the first three months of the year to 0.4%.
Also according to Eurostat, Eurozone industrial production was 3.2% ahead year-on-year in July (consensus: 3.3%) after a reading of 2.8% for June.
On the calendar for later in the session, US factory gate price data for August scheduled for 1330 BST, followed by the latest Treasury budget figures at 1900 BST.
The Porsche and Piech families, which combined owned Germany's Volkswagen, reportedly voiced opposition against selling any of the company's assets.
On a related note, in France PSA Group's boss reportedly said the fate of 800 staff at Opel's engine testing facility were at the mercy of European policymakers due to the regulatory push in favour of electric vehicles.