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GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares muted after Comey testimony; pound drops in UK election
June 8, 2017 / 10:02 PM / a month ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares muted after Comey testimony; pound drops in UK election

4 Min Read

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Euro falls after ECB keeps rates on hold

* Nasdaq closes at record high, Dow hits record intraday high

* Sterling slides as poll predicts May failed to win majority

* Top European share index briefly touches 3-week low

* Oil prices touch 1-month lows (Adds poll predicting outcome of UK election)

By Noel Randewich

June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. and European stocks were little changed on Thursday as investors digested testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, while Britain's pound fell after an exit poll predicted Prime Minister Theresa May has lost in her electoral roll of the dice.

Sterling weakened by nearly 2 cents to $1.27 after the poll suggested May's Conservative Party would not win enough seats in Parliament to take office alone, a result that would plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.

Comey told U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing he had no doubt that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election but was confident that no votes had been altered. The Dow briefly hit a record intraday high of 21,265.69 during his testimony, while the Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high after a boost from Yahoo and Nvidia shares.

The FTSEurofirst 300 of top European equities briefly hit a three-week low of 1,526.29 after the ECB said subdued inflation meant it would continue to pump more stimulus into the region's economy.

In reference to Comey's testimony, Jefferies & Co money market economist Thomas Simons said: "I think the market is taking less of an alarmist review of this situation because there is no smoking gun here. So it's not particularly impactful for thinking about... Trump's economic agenda to go through."

MSCI's all-country world equity index was last down 0.08 percent, at 467.24.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.04 percent at 21,182.53. The S&P 500 closed up 0.03 percent at 2,433.79. The Nasdaq Composite ended up 0.39 percent at 6,321.76.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.04 percent at 1,528.71.

May had called the snap election in a bid to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiation, and she been expected to win a larger parliamentary majority.

"Theresa May appears to have lost her electoral gamble," wrote Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments, in a briefing note. "Major risks lie ahead for the pound, and for risk-sensitive assets globally."

Ecb Decision

The euro hit its lowest since May 31 against the U.S. dollar, of $1.1196, after the ECB announcement. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was last up 0.4 percent at 97.143.

Oil prices edged lower, with benchmark Brent crude and U.S. crude prices hitting respective one-month lows of $47.56 and $45.20 after an unexpected surge in U.S. inventories and the return of more Nigerian crude aggravated concerns about a worldwide glut.

Brent crude settled down 20 cents, or 0.42 percent, at $47.86 per barrel. U.S. crude settled down 8 cents, or 0.17 percent, at $45.64 per barrel.

U.S. Treasury yields edged higher as investors focused +on next week's expected interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve, with benchmark 10-year yields last at 2.195 percent, compared with 2.180 percent late on Wednesday.

The dollar's gains pushed gold prices lower. Spot gold prices were last down 0.6 percent at $1,278.50 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London, Sam Forgione, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Dion Rabouin, Julia Simon and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler

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