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European Shares Snap Three-day Losing Streak

European stocks snapped three days of losses on Friday, as optimism over the upcoming eurozone meeting spurred bargain hunting in beaten down stocks.

With worries growing about Spain's fiscal health, alongside its neighbor Portugal, EU ministers from the 17 euro countries will discuss boosting the combined firepower of the region's two bailout funds to as high as EUR 940 billion from EUR 500 billion at a meeting later in the day, reports say.

Investors are also waiting for Spain's new budget cuts as the government struggles to discipline the regional governments that it blames for exacerbating the country's fiscal problems.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is gaining 0.91 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is up 0.6 percent. Around Europe, France's CAC 40 is rising 1.2 percent, the German DAX is adding 0.97 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 is moving up 0.61 percent and Switzerland's SMI is up 0.39 percent.

Cyclical shares are among the prominent gainers, with steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, miner Rio Tinto and automaker Daimler rising around 3 percent each. Rio Tinto said that it has become a member of the new China Beijing Metals Exchange, an electronic trading platform that will provide participating members with an additional iron ore trading channel in the China market.

Shares of rival BHP Billiton are up 2.6 percent after the company announced that its Iron Ore President, Ian Ashby, would be leaving on 1 July 2012 after more than 25 years with the company.

Credit Agricole SA, France's third-largest lender by market capitalization, is rallying 2.7 percent on saying that it is in talks with China's Citic Securities to sell its Hong-Kong based brokerage business CLSA.

Telecom Italia Group is down 2.7 percent as the Italian telecom company reported a loss for fiscal 2011, reflecting a goodwill writedown of 7.3 billion euros, or $9.75 billion, at its struggling domestic operations.

Shares of French oil company Total SA are down 0.4 percent in Paris as it struggles to resolve the gas leak at its Elgin North Sea gas platform.

Across Asia, stocks ended on a mixed note, as continued worries about slowing global growth tempered gains stemming from reports that Eurozone leaders will likely achieve positive results on the region's sovereign debt crisis.

Oil prices rebounded alongside equities, copper is edging higher and trading in the Dow futures point to a higher start on Wall Street, as investors await personal income and spending data for further clues about the state of the world's largest economy.

On the macroeconomic front, France's consumer spending increased at the fastest pace in more than a decade in February, following a decline in the previous two months, data released by the statistical office INSEE showed today.

Separately, data from the statistical office revealed that the French budget deficit narrowed to 5.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 compared to 7.1 percent in the previous year. The 2011 deficit was lower than the government's target of 5.7 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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