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French Market Trades Higher

The French market is notably higher on Monday, even as China's manufacturing sector growth slowed unexpectedly in February, ahead of the outcome of parliamentary elections in Italy. The Asian stocks rose broadly, and the U.S. index futures point to a higher open.

The U.K. lost its prized AAA bond ratings for the first time since 1978 in the face of sluggish economic growth that is raising challenges to fiscal consolidation.

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the nation's sovereign rating by one notch to Aa1 late Friday, while assigning 'stable' outlook. In a related action, the rating agency also lowered the ratings of the Bank of England to Aa1 from Aaa.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.83 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.12 percent.

The CAC 40 index is rising 1.3 percent.

Veolia Environnement is rising 3.6 percent, thus leading the gainers.

Vivendi is gaining 3.4 percent. UBS upgraded the stock to ''Neutral'' from ''Sell.''

Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are gaining between 2.8 percent and 2.2 percent.

HSBC cut Alcatel-Lucent to ''Underweight'' from ''Neutral.'' The stock is moderately higher.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is notably higher while the UK's FTSE 100 and Switzerland's SMI are moderately higher.

In economic news, China's manufacturing sector growth slowed unexpectedly in February due to a fall in foreign orders and slower expansion of output, dampening hopes of economic rebound at the start of the year, survey results from Markit Economics showed.

The HSBC flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 50.4, a 4-month low, from 52.3 in January, confounding expectations for a rise in reading to 52.3 in February.

Across Asia/Pacific, Japan's Nikkei 225 rallied 2.4 percent on hopes for a more aggressive monetary and fiscal policy. Australia's All Ordinaries gained 0.7 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages saw upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day, as some traders used the recent pullback as an opportunity to pick up stocks at somewhat reduced levels. The Dow rose 0.9 percent, the Nasdaq jumped 1 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.9 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for April delivery is adding $0.49 to $93.62 per barrel and April gold is gaining $17.3 to $1590.1 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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