A pick-up in US consumer confidence has helped boost investor sentiment

London (AFP) - Stock markets diverged Thursday after a mini rally triggered by positive US economic data, while the yen maintained strength against the dollar after surging earlier in the week.

Equities have been volatile in recent weeks as investors weigh up global recession risks against the reopening of China’s economy.

Investors pounced on a survey Wednesday showing a bigger-than-expected jump in US consumer confidence this month, as inflation showed signs of easing.

Better-than-expected earnings from Nike and delivery giant FedEx also boosted sentiment.

All three main indices on Wall Street ended more than one percent higher Wednesday.

“The economy is still headed towards a recession, but the consumer continues to show signs of resilience which could delay a significant tumble for equities,” noted Edward Moya, analyst at OANDA trading group.

Hong Kong led the way Thursday, rising more than two percent, with tech firms tracking their US counterparts higher and property stocks boosted by comments from top Chinese officials pledging support for the beleaguered sector.

Towards the end of the day, Shanghai dipped on worries about rising Covid cases in China.

“The market is coming around to the notion that we will have a more orthodox 2023, including a… Fed that is looking to slow the pace of hikes amid better news on inflation,” said Stephen Innes at SPI Asset Management.

The Federal Reserve, along with most major central banks, has aggressively increased interest rates this year to try and tame decades-high inflation.

Elsewhere Thursday, oil prices extended recent strong gains in reaction to falling US stockpiles that left crude inventories at their lowest levels in eight years.

On the corporate front Thursday, France’s privacy watchdog said it had fined US tech giant Microsoft 60 million euros ($64 million) for foisting on users advertising cookies – data files that track online browsing.

- Key figures around 1200 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,527.82 points

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.2 percent at 14,066.81

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 6,576.53

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,865.57

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 26,507.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 2.7 percent at 19,679.22 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,054.43 (close)

New York - UP 1.6 percent at 33,376.48 (close)

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 132.09 yen from 132.38 yen on Wednesday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0616 from $1.0613

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2045 from $1.2082

Euro/pound: UP at 88.14 pence from 87.81 pence

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.0 percent at $83.84 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.0 percent at $79.84 per barrel