STOXX 600 flat
COVID surge in China weighs
U.S. stock futures inch higher
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DO YOU REMEMBER... THE 26TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER? (1149 GMT)
It's a day sterling traders will never forget.
September 26, 2022 will be remembered as the day when sterling dropped to record low against the U.S. dollar of $1.0327.
It has been quite the rollercoaster ride for the pound in 2022. Having begun the year trading around $1.35 against the dollar, it hit its highest level of the year later that month at around $1.3750 before the slide started.
Sky-high inflation, an economy on the brink of recession, a cost-of-living crisis and political turmoil all weighed heavily in 2022.
In fact, the pound, which has fallen 11% in 2022, is on track for its biggest yearly drop against the dollar since a 16% fall in 2016 - the year Britain voted to leave the European Union.
However, it's not all been one-way traffic.
The fourth quarter, if the pound holds on to recent gains, will be its biggest quarterly gain against the dollar since the second quarter of 2009.
Quite the turnaround for a currency that had analysts calling for it to reach parity with the dollar.
It remains to be seen if 2023 will be as exciting as 2022 but with central bank tightening, domestic political uncertainty, a slowing economy and geopolitical instability all likely to continue into next year, pound traders could well be in for another wild ride.
AN "ISTAN-BULLISH" RUN FOR CHEAP TURKEY STOCKS (1129 GMT)
This year has been a pretty brutal one for stocks around the world. Many European benchmark indices are on track for their worst performance since 2008 and only a handful have eked out single-digit gains, almost entirely thanks to energy stocks.
The worst-performing index is Vienna's ATX index, which has lost 21% in value this year, largely down to a 41% drop in the value of Raiffeisen Bank, widely seen as the European bank with the most exposure to Russia.
But there is a one stellar performer in the wider region this year - Istanbul's benchmark BIST 100, which has gained almost 190% in lira terms in 2022 - its largest yearly gain since 1999. The fallout from a plunging currency has forced Turks to protect their savings and, in order to do so, they've flocked to cheap equities.
The BIST 100 has a PE ratio of just 6, according to Refinitiv data, a far cry from the 24 for Copenhagen's OMXC 20 and from Germany's DAX, which is chock-full of big names, like Siemens and Volkswagen, and boasts a PE ratio of 13 despite having lost 12% this year.
The only index that is cheaper - in PE terms at any rate - is Moscow's MOEX, which has a ratio of 4. But, given the raft of sanctions in place over Russia's war in Ukraine, it's as good as off-limits to anyone but domestic investors.
Indeed, Istanbul's blue chips might be cheap for foreigners, but they're not necessarily cheerful. Inflation is running at 84%, meaning real interest rates are deeply negative and tight presidential and parliamentary elections are due next year.
Foreign ownership of Turkish equities has dropped to 32% from around 64% three years ago, while domestic holdings have increased to 68% from 36%, according to figures from the Central Securities Depository of Turkey in November.
THE MORE IT FALLS, THE MORE THEY WANT IT
What's that falling out of the sky? It's Tesla.
According to Vanda Research, Tesla has been the most bought stock among retail investors in the U.S. over the fourth quarter with net purchases exceeding $7 billion for the first time ever.
In the same period, Tesla has lost 57% in its biggest quarterly drop on record that wiped off north of $400 billion in market value and sent the stock to its lowest since 2020.
This clearly shows how retail traders ultimately believe Elon Musk is right in being optimistic over Tesla stock, although only time will tell whether they're right or not.
"Don't be too bothered by stock market craziness... Long-term, I believe very much that Tesla will be the most valuable company on Earth!," Musk told staff on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Citi said Tesla could be seen as a potential contrarian buy in the year ahead.
STOXX AT OVER 1-WEEK LOW (0911 GMT)
European shares got off to an unexciting start of the penultimate trading session of 2022, with most sectors heading south and dragging the STOXX 600 down to its lowest level in more than a week.
The pan-European equity index was last down 0.2% after hitting its lowest since Dec. 20, weighed down by falling heavyweight commodity stocks such as Shell and Glencore and consumer staples like Nestle and Unilever.
Tech managed to shake off its recent weakness, and rose 0.4% from a 7-week low hit on Wednesday.
EUROPE'S STOCK FUTURES SLIDE (0727 GMT)
European shares are expected to open lower today, with worries over the spread of COVID infections in China keeping the mood subdued, as a difficult year for world stocks winds down.
EuroSTOXX 50 and FTSE futures fell 0.3% following overnight losses in Asia, where soaring COVID cases in China have cast doubt over the chances of a swift recovery for the world's No.2 economy.
Several countries including the Unite States, Japan and Italy now require negative COVID tests for travellers from China.
Meanwhile, U.S. futures wavered ahead of weekly jobless claims data later on and as investors ponder recession risks and the prospects of more rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
The STOXX 600 is down 12.4% so far in 2022, set for its biggest annual drop since 2018, when it lost 13.2%.