By Dave Morris
European markets were slightly positive as geopolitical tensions could not dent the week's central bank-driven rally.
How did markets perform?
The Stoxx 600 was flat at 386.2, after climbing 1.7% Thursday.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 was also flat, trading at 7,426.5. It increased 1.2% Thursday.
The pound fell 0.4% to $1.2656, after ticking down 0.1% Thursday.
In Germany, the DAX was 0.3% higher at 12,388.6. On Thursday it moved up 2%.
France's CAC 40 was up 0.5% to 5,562.9, adding to Thursday's gain of 2.2%.
Italy's FTSE MIB was also up 0.5% at 21,465.4. It jumped 2.5% Thursday.
The continuing tensions in the Middle East continued to lift crude oil benchmarks. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) front month contract traded at $57.22/bbl., up 0.3%, and the Brent front month contract was at $64.82/bbl., up 0.6%.
What's moving the markets?
The New York Times reported that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered airstrikes on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone, but withdrew the order before it could be executed. The two sides had disagreed over whether the drone was in international or Iranian airspace when it was shot down. Reuters reported that (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-iran-usa-attacks/trump-warned-iran-via-oman-that-u-s-attack-imminent-called-for-talks-iranian-officials-idUSKCN1TM0AY?il=0), according to Iranian sources, Trump warned Tehran via Oman that an attack was imminent and called for talks.
Investors continued to reposition themselves following guidance from central banks earlier in the week indicating that stimulus measures were under consideration. Gold brushed against the $1,400-an-ounce price before retreating , though it is up 3.2% on the week. Meanwhile, analysts suggested that investor sentiment on the global economy is too pessimistic.
Deutsche Bank group chief economist David Folkerts-Landau wrote that his team expected both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to loosen financial conditions: "Against this backdrop of slower, but still positive, growth and coordinated central bank policy easing, investors will be forced to add risk."
The race to be the next U.K. Prime Minister narrowed to two as the Conservative Party leadership contest came down to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Environment Secretary Michael Gove was eliminated in a fresh ballot among the party's MPs, losing to Hunt by two votes. The final result will be determined by a postal vote of the Conservative membership, with the result expected the week of July 22.
Which stocks are active?
Large oil companies across Europe gained on the rise in the oil price. Total was 1.8% higher, as was BP PLC. Eni rose 0.6%. Royal Dutch Shell climbed 1.2%.
Cruise operator Carnival sank 2.3% as it slashed earnings guidance for the full year on Thursday. The company cited factors including the Cuba travel ban by the U.S. and softness in bookings by European customers. It also announced that it had canceled sailings on its Carnival Vista ship due to technical issues.