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French Market Advances

The French market is trading higher on Friday, led by banks . Sentiment was influenced by firm cues from Asia and the previous session in the U.S. which rose on economic optimism.

Investors breathed a sigh of relief as Greek Parliament on Thursday endorsed the debt swap deal with its private creditors, clearing one of the main hurdles for securing a rescue package worth 130 billion euros.

Bank of England policymaker Paul Fisher said he is keeping an open mind on yet another round of quantitative easing, given the ongoing economic uncertainty. "At this moment in time I would have a completely open mind going into the next round as to whether we would want to do more QE or not," Fisher said in an interview to City A.M. published today.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is advancing 0.67 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.10 percent.

The CAC 40 index is currently adding 0.45 percent.

Societe Generale is leading the gainers by adding 3.8 percent. BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole are up about 1.9 percent each. Societe Generale lowered its rating on Credit Agricole to "Sell" from "Hold."

Speed-train maker Alstom is climbing 2.8 percent and grocery retailer Carrefour is advancing 2.7 percent.

Renault and Peugeot are gaining 2.1 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Societe Generale cut Accor to "Hold" from "Buy." The hotel group is unchanged.

Technicolor is declining 6.3 percent. The company reported lower adjusted earnings for the second half of the year and revenues also plunged from last year.

Eiffage is climbing nearly 11 percent on some positive remarks from the chief executive officer about growth in 2012.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is advancing 0.86 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is up 0.02 percent. Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.35 percent.

In economic news, the German economy contracted 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, an updated estimate from the Federal Statistical Office confirmed. Compared to the previous quarter, exports declined 0.8 percent, while economists expected a 1.4 percent decline. Investment rose 1.1 percent compared to expectations for a 0.5 percent rise.

In the U.K. also, economy contracted in the fourth quarter in line with previous estimate. Gross domestic product dropped 0.2 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter.

Across Asia/Pacific, economic optimism influenced sentiment with major markets closing higher. Australia's All Ordinaries and Japan's Nikkei 225 gained about 0.5 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.12 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.25 percent to a six-month high.

In the U.S., futures point to a slightly higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages recovered from early weakness as upbeat jobs data overshadowed some disappointing earnings news. The Dow rose 0.4 percent, the Nasdaq jumped 0.8 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for April delivery is advancing $0.37 to $108.20 per barrel while April gold is declining $5.9 to $1780.4 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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