June 8, 2017 / 12:38 AM / 3 years ago

Shares muted after Comey testimony; pound drops in UK election

(Reuters) - U.S. and European stocks were little changed on Thursday as investors digested testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, while Britain’s pound fell after an exit poll predicted Prime Minister Theresa May has lost in her electoral roll of the dice.

An ETX Capital trader reacts as he watches the results for Britain's election in London, June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Sterling slumped by about 2 cents to $1.27 after the poll suggested May’s Conservative Party would not win enough seats in Parliament to take office alone, a shock result that would plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could complicate Brexit talks.

Comey told U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing he had no doubt that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election but was confident that no votes had been altered. The Dow briefly hit a record intraday high of 21,265.69 during his testimony, while the Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high after a boost from Yahoo YHOO.O and Nvidia (NVDA.O) shares.

The FTSEurofirst 300 of top European equities briefly hit a three-week low of 1,526.29 after the ECB said subdued inflation meant it would continue to pump more stimulus into the region’s economy.

In reference to Comey’s testimony, Jefferies & Co money market economist Thomas Simons said: “I think the market is taking less of an alarmist review of this situation because there is no smoking gun here. So it’s not particularly impactful for thinking about... Trump’s economic agenda to go through.”

MSCI’s all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last down 0.08 percent, at 467.24.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI closed up 0.04 percent at 21,182.53. The S&P 500 .SPX closed up 0.03 percent at 2,433.79. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC ended up 0.39 percent at 6,321.76.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.04 percent at 1,528.71.

May had called the snap election in a bid to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiation, and she been expected to win a larger parliamentary majority.

S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 0.15 percent, while prices of U.S. 10-year Treasury futures rose.

“Theresa May appears to have lost her electoral gamble,” wrote Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments, in a briefing note. “Major risks lie ahead for the pound, and for risk-sensitive assets globally.”


The euro hit its lowest since May 31 against the U.S. dollar, of $1.1196 EUR=, after the ECB announcement. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was last up 0.5 percent at 97.209.

Oil prices edged lower, with benchmark Brent crude and U.S. crude prices hitting respective one-month lows of $47.56 and $45.20 after an unexpected surge in U.S. inventories and the return of more Nigerian crude aggravated concerns about a worldwide glut.

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Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 20 cents, or 0.42 percent, at $47.86 per barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 8 cents, or 0.17 percent, at $45.64 per barrel.

U.S. Treasury yields edged higher as investors focused on next week’s expected interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve, with benchmark 10-year yields US10YT=RR last at 2.195 percent, compared with 2.180 percent late on Wednesday.

The dollar’s gains pushed gold prices lower. Spot gold prices XAU= were last down 0.6 percent at $1,278.50 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London, Sam Forgione, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Dion Rabouin, Julia Simon and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler

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