Key eurozone stock markets posted gains on Tuesday as a weaker euro gave exporters a boost, while London underperformed because of sharp falls in banking giant HSBC and other major companies following earnings updates.
‘The FTSE 100 was held back by mixed results from HSBC, (miner) BHP Billiton and (hotels group) IHG,’ said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.
Results for both HSBC and BHP ‘were characterised by missed estimates mixed in with signs turnaround plans are nearly complete,’ he said.
In closing trade, HSBC and BHP were both down 4.5 percent.
IHG shed three percent as the owner of the InterContinental and Holiday Inn brands said it planned no dividend payouts for 2018.
Dead cat bounce
Market talk that the EU parliament is likely to urge the EU to give Britain privileged single-market access after Brexit underpinned the pound for most of the session, adding pressure on stocks in export-driven multinationals.
But the real force in forex markets was the dollar, which rose against the euro and yen, sparking a debate over whether the currency has finally embarked on a sustained recovery on the back of strong US growth.
‘Could this be the start of an incredible rally or another dead cat bounce?,’ asked Lukman Otunuga, analyst at FXTM.
He said growth and expected higher US Federal Reserve interest rates stood to boost the currency, but only if other central banks did not tighten credit as fast as the US central bank.
US stocks were lower as investors, returning to their desks after a long bank holiday weekend, found little reason to buy.
Instead, Wall Street is trying to second-guess the Federal Reserve’s reaction to rising inflationary pressure, and analysts are hoping for fresh insight into the central bank’s thinking when Fed minutes are released on Wednesday.
Tumbling Walmart shares following results were the biggest feature in morning New York trading, weighing down the retail sector and the big indices.
Walmart reported higher sales in the fourth quarter, but also higher costs and slowing online sales, a red flag for investors interested in how well Walmart is competing with Amazon.
Walmart shares were just under 10 percent lower approaching midday.
Asia lacks bite
In Asia, the Tokyo stock market closed down Tuesday more than one percent, snapping a three-day winning streak as investors locked in profits after the recent gains.
Hong Kong shed 0.8 percent as traders returned to work after the Lunar New Year holiday marking the start of the Year of the Dog.
Monday’s closures in the US and Canadian markets ‘crimped activity’, said Oanda analyst Stephen Innes. 
In commodities trading, oil prices diverged after rising across the board on Monday.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, bitcoin climbed to around $11,600 from $11,141.05 on Monday – when Bank of England governor Mark Carney said in a London speech that the cryptocurrency had ‘pretty much failed thus far on (…) the traditional aspects of money’.
He told Regent’s University: ‘It is not a store value… Nobody uses it as a medium of exchange’. 
Key figures around 1640 GMT
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.01 percent at 7,246.77 points (close) 
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 12,487.90 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,289.86 (close) 
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 3,43.08
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.5 percent at 25,104.27 
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 21,925.10 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.8 percent at 30,873.63 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for public holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2333 from $1.2407 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3995 from $1.3999
Dollar/yen: UP at 107.19 yen from 106.60 yen
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 67 cents at $65.00 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 17 cents at $61.72