European stocks rose broadly to hit a five-month high on Friday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments that Germany is committed to do everything they can to maintain the euro helped keep alive hopes that the ECB will take some decisive steps to reduce surging borrowing costs. Having said that, gains were limited following news that Eurozone member Finland is preparing for a potential break-up of the single currency block.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of Eurozone bluechip stocks is moving up 0.6 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is up marginally. Around Europe, Switzerland's SMI, the U.K.'s FTSE 100, the German DAX and France's CAC 40 are gaining between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent, with automakers and banks leading the gainers.
Swiss Life Holding AG is climbing 3.6 percent in Zurich despite the company reporting a fall in its 2012 first-half net profit.
Vodafone is rising 0.2 percent in London after the U.S Department of Justice cleared the $3.9 billion deal by Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Plc., to buy spectrum from cable operators including Comcast Corp.
Rio Tinto Plc shares are losing a percent after the miner priced $3.0 billion of fixed rate bonds with a weighted average coupon of 2.67 percent and a weighted average maturity of 12.9 years.
Shares of Heineken NV are down half a percent in Amsterdam after media reports said the Dutch brewer is in discussion with its joint venture partner Fraser & Neave Ltd about raising its $6 billion offer for Fraser & Neave's stake in Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries.
In economic news, German producer price inflation eased to its lowest level in more than two years in July amid a fall in production costs for electricity and intermediate goods, a report from the Federal Statistical Office showed. Pipeline inflation eased to 0.9 percent from 1.6 percent in June. Economists had expected the rate to ease to 1.2 percent in July.
Separately, the latest figures published by Eurostat showed that Eurozone's trade surplus rose to EUR 14.9 billion in June from EUR 7.1 billion in May. A year ago, the balance was in a surplus of EUR 0.2 billion.
Elsewhere, Asian markets ended mostly higher, as encouraging signs about the U.S. housing market as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's voice of support for the ECB action to resolve the debt crisis helped improve investor risk appetite. Speculation concerning Spain receiving its first tranche of the EU banking bailout also boosted sentiment.
Commodities are mixed, while the Dow futures point to a slightly higher start on Wall Street.
by RTT Staff Writer
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