The European markets closed to the upside again Friday, capping off a week of substantial gains. Little European economic news was released Friday and markets were up in early trade. Disappointing economic reports from the U.S. dragged European markets lower in the afternoon, particularly the lower than expected consumer sentiment number. European automakers were weakened slightly after Bernstein cut European autos to "Neutral."
The executive board of the International Monetary Fund approved a EUR 28 billion loan for Greece on Thursday, 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 increased by 0.43 percent Friday, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, gained 0.37 percent.
The CAC 40 of France climbed by 0.41 percent and the DAX of Germany finished higher by 0.19 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. rose by 0.46 percent and the SMI of Switzerland closed up by 0.14 percent.
In Frankfurt, Daimler fell by 2.18 percent. Bernstein lowered its rating on the stock to "Market-perform" from "Outperform."
Bernstein also reduced Porsche to "Underperform" from "Market-perform." The stock dropped by 3.73 percent.
K+S dipped by 0.10 percent, after ING upgraded the stock to "Buy" from "Hold."
Wacker Chemie rose by 0.82 percent, after HSBC lowered the stock to "Neutral" from "Overweight."
Air Berlin finished down by 0.70 percent. The 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, Credit Agricole said its first-quarter results would benefit from a gain that would more than compensate for its Greece-related provisions. The stock finished higher by 0.53 percent.
Veolia Environnement rose by 4.57 percent, after UBS upgraded the stock to "Neutral" from "Sell."
In London, Tullow Oil increased by 4.01 percent. The company reportedly encountered oil at a test well in Ghana.
Eurozone merchandise trade balance slipped into a deficit in January despite an acceleration in exports, according to data released Friday by Eurostat. The trade balance showed a deficit of EUR 7.6 billion in January, compared to a revised surplus of EUR 9.1 billion in December. Economists were looking for a deficit of EUR3 billion in January.
The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that its consumer price index rose by 0.4 percent in February following a 0.2 percent increase in January. Economists had expected the index to increase by about 0.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index edged up by 0.1 percent in February compared to a 0.2 percent increase in the previous month.
Industrial production in the U.S. unexpectedly came in unchanged in the month of February, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve on Friday. Industrial production rose by a revised 0.4 percent in January. Economist had expected production to increase by 0.5 percent. Mining output showed a notable decrease during the month, tumbling by 1.2 percent in February following a 1.6 percent drop in the previous month.
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. showed an unexpected decrease in the month of March, according to a report released by Reuters and the University of Michigan on Friday. The consumer sentiment index fell to 74.3 in March, from 75.3 in February. The drop surprised economists, who had expected the index to increase to 76.0.
by RTT Staff Writer
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