LONDON: European stocks finished narrowly mixed on Tuesday (Nov 26) as investors tracked developments in the China-US trade talks, while Chinese online retail titan Alibaba surged almost eight per cent on its Hong Kong debut.
After closing on Monday at record highs, Wall Street's main indices inched higher Tuesday as Chinese and US officials continue to drip feed markets information about talks to resolve their trade war.
On Tuesday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke by phone to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, state media said.
The two sides "discussed solving issues regarding each other's core concerns, reached consensus on properly resolving related issues, and agreed to maintain communication on remaining issues in consultations on the 'phase one' deal", China's official Xinhua news agency said, without providing more details.
The news came after Beijing said at the weekend it would hike penalties on violations of intellectual property rights and also look at lowering the threshold for criminal punishments of those who steal intellectual property.
The IP issue is a major sticking point for the United States in the discussions and agreement on it is seen as key to their success.
The comments helped sentiment, but failed to spark a new rally, especially as trading quiets ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
"Though quiet, the Dow Jones still managed to add 40 or so points - enough to lift it back above 28,100 and to an effective all-time high," said market analyst Connor Campbell at Spreadex.
"Traders remember only too well that in June the discussions were 90 per cent complete before they fell apart, so it is understandable that stocks are only a little higher today," said David Madden at CMC Markets UK.
The pound fell back as Britain's main opposition Labour party clawed back ground in the polls ahead of next month's general election, as they attempt to unseat Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives and unleash a programme of renationalisation.
ALIBABA STARS ON DEBUT
In Hong Kong, shares in Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba surged 7.7 per cent as it began trading for the first time following an US$11 billion initial public offering, which is the city's biggest since 2010.
It ended at HK$187.60, up 6.6 per cent from its listing price.
Asia's most valuable firm, which is already traded in New York, said the decision to list in Hong Kong was a vote of confidence in the city, which has been hit by months of violent protests and the trade war.
However, Asian markets struggled to extend advances from the day before despite Wall Street's record-high closing.
Tokyo did manage to rise 0.4 per cent as the trade optimism lifted the dollar against the yen, providing a boost to Japanese exporters, while Shanghai was flat.
Key figures around 1630 GMT:
London - FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 per cent at 7,403.14 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN less than 0.1 per cent at 13,236.42 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP less than 0.1 per cent at 5,929.62 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP less than 0.1 per cent at 3,708.90
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 per cent at 23,373.32 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 26,913.92 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: FLAT at 2,907.06 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1016 from US$1.1014 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2846 from US$1.2900
Euro/pound: UP at 85.75 pence from 85.38 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 109.06 yen from 108.93 yen
Brent North Sea crude: FLAT at US$63.66 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at US$58.00 per barrel