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European Markets Mostly Higher

The European markets are mostly higher in afternoon trading on Friday, after Spain suffered a double-notch credit downgrade. The Asian markets were a sea of red and the U.S. index futures are slightly up ahead of the GDP data.

Standard and Poor's downgraded Spanish credit ratings by two notches on Thursday saying it expects further deterioration of the country's public finances amid economic contraction and the need to support banks.

Italy sold long term bonds close to the high end of its targeted range, although demand and borrowing costs were higher than at earlier auctions.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is gaining 0.16 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is adding 0.23 percent.

The German DAX is adding 0.18 percent and the French CAC 40 is rising 0.42 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is rising 0.29 percent while Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.02 percent.

In Frankfurt, Volkswagen is up 2.4 percent and BMW is gaining 1 percent. However, Daimler is losing 1.7 percent after the carmaker posted a 20 percent increase in first-quarter profit, citing ongoing growth in unit sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars and Daimler Trucks divisions.

Software AG is climbing 5.2 percent. The company kept its full-year sales forecast unchanged even after first-quarter profit declined on lower revenues.

MunichRe is declining 6.10 percent and Allianz is down 0.3 percent.

Basf is declining 2.4 percent. The chemical giant reported a decline in first-quarter profit on lower margins.

UBS initiated Adidas with a "Buy" rating. The stock is marginally down.

Rheinmetall is losing 2.9 percent after reporting lower quarterly profit.

In Paris, Vinci, which reported higher sales for the first quarter, is climbing 4 percent. Bouygues is up 1.4 percent.

Sanofi is rising 2.5 percent. The drugmaker posted increased profit for the first quarter, benefiting from the acquisition of U.S. biotech firm Genzyme and higher sales from diabetes drug Lantus.

Credit Agricole is gaining 1.9 percent and Societe Generale is moderately higher. BNP Paribas is marginally up.

Vivendi is gaining 1.2 percent. The stock was upgraded to "Overweight" from "Equalweight" at Barclays.

Loreal is losing 2.3 percent. Carrefour is down 1.1 percent.

Total is falling 1.9 percent. The oil giant said the deterioration of environment in its refining and chemicals segment dragged its first-quarter profit down.

In London, Barclays is climbing 3.2 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland is gaining 1.7 percent.

Man Group is climbing 5.3 percent and ICAP is rising 2.5 percent.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are up about 1 percent each.

British Land is up 2.6 percent and Land Securities Group is gaining 1.5 percent. CRH is gaining 3.2 percent.

BT Group is falling 1.7 percent. Goldman Sachs added the stock to its "Conviction Buy" list.

Shire is losing 1.2 percent and Associated British Foods is losing 1.1 percent.

Eni is up 1.5 percent in Milan. The integrated energy company reported a 42 percent increase in first-quarter profit.

Nobel Biocare is climbing 3.9 percent in Zurich after reporting financial results.

In economic news, German consumer sentiment is set to deteriorate next month as income expectations and the willingness to buy durables deteriorated on high fuel prices, a survey by the market research group GfK showed.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries lost 0.26 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.35 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.33 percent and 0.43 percent, respectively.

In the U.S., futures point to a slightly higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the Dow rose 0.9 percent, the Nasdaq climbed 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.7 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for June delivery is losing $0.31 to $104.24 per barrel and June gold is falling $4.9 to $1655.6 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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