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European stocks down as investor sentiment remains cautious

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European markets traded in negative territory on Thursday as investors remained cautious in the face of Brexit and Italy budget difficulties in Europe, and wider geopolitical tensions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.6 percent, with all major indexes in negative territory.

In terms of sectors, Healthcare is the best performing, up 0.10 percent, with all other sectors in negative territory. Utilities and Banks are at the top of the worst performing sectors, down nearly 1 percent.

Brexit progress continues to dominate European headlines on Thursday. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May discussed the current state of Brexit negotiations with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Wednesday.

May said progress was being made on a draft agreement on future EU-U.K. relations (a separate agreement from the Brexit deal) but Spain has threatened to vote against the draft Brexit deal if it is left out of talks on the future status of Gibraltar, a British territory on Spain’s southern coast. There is a meeting of EU leaders on Sunday at which they are expected to endorse the draft Brexit deal.

Meanwhile, Italy’s budget continues to cause a headache for Europe too. With Italy refusing to budge on its big spending plans for 2019, the European Commission announced on Wednesday that it is starting disciplinary measures against Italy which could result in it being fined. Investors are also keeping an eye on global trade developments.

In Asia, markets were in mixed territory with China stocks mostly negative amid ongoing trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Investor attention is focused on a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at an upcoming G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires on November 30.

In business news, investors will be keeping an eye on a Nissan board meeting to discuss the ousting of the carmaker’s Chairman Carlos Ghosn after his shock arrest earlier. Ghosn has been accused of alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn is also the chairman and chief executive of Renault so its shares are under pressure Thursday.

Oil prices dipped on Thursday after U.S. crude inventories increased to their highest level since December 2017, fueling more concerns of a possible oversupply in markets.

U.S. financial markets are closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving public holiday and there are no major earnings Thursday. Data releases include preliminary euro area consumer confidence numbers for November.

source: CNBC

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