European Markets Fluctuate as Traders Search for Direction



17 October 2008

European markets again fluctuated Friday closing out a highly volatile week of trading. Most of the markets were making gains by midday. For VOA, Tom Rivers in London reports.

Stock traders talk at the stock exchange in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 16 Oct 2008
Stock traders talk at the stock exchange in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 16 Oct  2008
As the week wound down on the European markets, extreme volatility remained the dominant feature. On the one hand, fears of a global recession persist while hope in the form of easing interbank lending rates and retreating oil prices have given hope to some.

Because of these mixed messages, trade here remains frenetic. The massive stock index gains on Monday and Tuesday were mostly erased the following two days.

The weekend break may provide a pause to reflect upon what the underlying direction is. Until the markets settle down, the choppy conditions will likely remain.

Britain's PM Gordon Brown gives a press conference after a working session of a second day of a European Council summit in Brussels, 16 Oct. 2008
Gordon Brown gives a press conference after a working session of a second day of a European Council summit in Brussels, 16 Oct 2008
Meanwhile, leaders like British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are trying to reassure their citizens that progress will be made in working through these tough economic times.

"My undivided attention is on talking this country through difficult times that everybody knows have been created as a result of a global problem that started in America," he said. "And, I think the whole country wants everybody who can and who is prepared to do to work together to take us through these difficult challenges."  

With the financial problems now moving beyond the realm of just the banking sector and reaching into the real economy of everyday life, Mr. Brown says he is on top of the situation.

"We are rebuilding our banking system," he said. "We are acting to ensure that people with small businesses are helped. We are trying to make sure that the housing market can start moving forward again and of course we are helping people with their winter fuel bills."

The latest U.S. housing data will affect where the European markets go. The U.S. Commerce Department Friday reported the number of new homes under construction fell to a 17 year low in September.