Eurozone markets hold at record levels

European shares drew support from a steady improvement in the outlook for the euro zone economy today as Australia cut interest rates to help its economy face the impact of slowing commodity demand from China.

British and German industrial output data for June and an update on the health of the Italian economy due later were expected to extend a run of upbeat data suggesting the region’s 18-month long recession is nearing an end.

“It’s all about how quickly we exit this recession. The market is pricing in that it is going to be Q3,” said Alistair Cotton, senior FX analyst at Currencies Direct.

German government bond prices eased and Italian bonds were slightly firmer ahead of the numbers, while Europe’s broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index was flat in thin trading, with many participants away on holiday.

The steady tone in European equities bucked the trend in Asia where MSCI’s Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index fell 0.5 percent to hit a two-week low and post the first loss in four days.

The Australian dollar recovered after the country’s central bank cut rates by 25 basis points, gaining 0.6 percent to $0.8982 and pulling away from a three-year low of $0.8848 set on Monday.

The move was widely expected and some traders were disappointed the bank did not signal further rate cuts ahead.

“Most of the market, it seems, has been selling Aussie dollars up to this point, so perhaps this is a good juncture to take profit on those trades,” said Hamish Pepper, currency strategist at Barclays in Singapore.

Moves in other major currencies were relatively subdued, with the euro easing 0.1 percent to $1.3247, while the U.S. dollar edged up 0.3 percent versus the yen to 98.53 yen .

The single currency showed no clear reaction to comments from European Central Bank policymaker Peter Praet that the bank’s forward guidance on low rates had an easing bias.

In commodity markets, copper added 0.1 percent to around $6,980 a tonne after a 0.4 percent decline on Monday, while gold fell 1 percent, extending a 0.6 percent drop in the previous session to be not far from a two-week low of $1,282.69 hit on Friday.

Brent crude prices dipped 0.2 percent to around $108.50 a barrel, extending a 0.3 percent fall on Monday and heading for a third straight day of losses – which would be its longest losing run since late May. Source: Reuters