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European Markets Post Modest Gains

The European markets are making modest gains on Friday, in the absence of any important economic news. That said, some broker recommendations did impact investor sentiment in the region. The Asian markets ended mostly lower on profit taking and the U.S. index futures are higher ahead of the key U.S. consumer price data.

The International Monetary Fund approved a 28 billion euros loan for Greece despite doubts raised by some members about the ability of the eurozone nation to implement a four-year program that includes stringent austerity measures.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.30 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is advancing 0.41 percent.

The German DAX is adding 0.30 pecrent and the French CAC 40 gaining 0.27 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is gaining 0.34 percent and Switzerland's SMI is rising 0.12 percent.

In Frankfurt, insurers Allianz and MunichRe are advancing 1.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Airline Lufthansa is gaining 1.6 percent. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank are moderately higher.

Automakers are in negative territory after Bernstein cut European autos to "Neutral."

Daimler is losing 1.1 percent. Bernstein reduced its rating on the stock to "Market-perform" from "Outperform."

The brokerage also cut Porsche to "Underperform" from "Market-perform." The stock is losing about 3 percent.

K+S is down 0.2 percent. ING raised the stock to "Buy" from "Hold."

Wacker Chemie is falling 2 percent. HSBC lowered the stock to "Neutral" from "Overweight."

Air Berlin is losing 1.6 percent. The second largest German airline said it is looking at the future more positively after poor 2011 results that were hurt by additional taxes and one-off effects, apart from unfavorable weather and strikes.

In Paris, Axa and Veolia Environnement are advancing 1.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Peugeot is climbing 2.1 percent while Renault is losing 0.2 percent.

BNP Paribas is climbing 1.3 percent. Societe Generale is gaining 0.8 pecrent.

Credit Agricole said its first-quarter results would benefit from a gain that would more than compensate for its Greece-related provisions. The stock is up 0.6 percent.

STMicroelectronics and Alstom are losing about 2 pecrent and 1 percent, respectively.

In London, Hargreaves Lansdown is gaining 4.2 percent and Essar Energy is climbing about 4 percent. Tullow Oil is adding 3.5 percent.

Royal Bank of Scotland is climbing 2.8 percent. Lloyds Banking is advancing 1.8 percent.

Anglo American is rising 1.2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing 1.1 percent.

Citigroup upgraded Renewable Energy to "Buy" from "Neutral." The stock is down 1 percent in Oslo.

Subsea 7 is climbing 4.9 percent in Oslo.

Oriflame is surging 4.3 percent in Stockholm.

In economic news, Eurozone's merchandise trade balance slipped to a deficit in January, and exceeded economists' forecast, data released by statistical office Eurostat showed.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries lost 0.05 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.17 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged down 0.06 percent while China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.30 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages closed firmly in positive territory, benefiting from another batch of positive U.S. economic data, including more upbeat jobs data. The Dow rose 0.4 percent, the Nasdaq climbed 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.6 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for April delivery is adding $0.42 to $105.53 per barrel while gold is dropping $11.3 to $1648.2 a troy ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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