UK stocks closed in the red on Friday as oil prices fell and investors sifted through a batch of mixed economic data.
Oil prices extended losses amid reports the Iranian oil minister will not attend this Sunday’s summit in Qatar. Brent crude fell 2.8% to $42.61 per barrel.
On Thursday, the International Energy Agency said the global oil glut was set to ease by the end of this year. It also said that any potential agreement to freeze output at the Doha meeting would have only a limited impact on supplies.
Investors are well aware of Sunday’s meeting in Doha between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to discuss a freeze on crude output. Equity movements have a strong positive correlation to the oil price so we may see some profit-taking now given uncertainty ahead of the meeting.
In economic data, China’s gross domestic product rose 6.7% year-on-year in the first three months of the year, down from 6.8% growth the previous quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The figure was in line with analysts’ estimates but marked the slowest quarterly growth for China since the height of the financial crisis in 2009.
Other Chinese data came in more positive. Retail sales jumped 10.3% in March, beating forecasts for a 10.2% increase. Industrial production climbed 6.8% in March compared to forecasts for a 6% gain.
In the UK, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed construction output dipped 0.3% in February compared with the previous month, falling short of expectations for no change. Compared with the same month last year, output rose 0.3% versus analysts’ forecasts for a 0.7% increase.
Across the pond, US industrial production fell more than expected in March, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. Production was down 0.6% from February, which was much steeper than the 0.1% dip forecast by economists.
Other data from the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment eased in April. The preliminary estimate for the confidence index was 89.7 in April, down from 91.0 in March and worse than the 92.0 reading expected by analysts.
The Empire State index for April rose to its highest level in more than a year to 9.56 compared to 0.62 a month earlier.