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European Markets Recover After Greek Reform Package Approved

The European markets ended Friday's session with modest gains, recovering some of the lost ground from the previous two days. However, the markets suffered their worst week since November due to the mid-week sell-off. The FTSE 100 of the UK was a notable exception. The market strung together four straight days of gains, helped by a mini flash crash in the value of the pound on Thursday.

The Trump administration took the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which helped to ease concerns over the President's ability to deliver on his economic agenda.

Investors were also encouraged by the continued rise in crude oil prices, which climbed back above $50 a barrel at the end of the trading week.

Greece's lawmakers approved a reforms package on Thursday that includes pension cuts and tax hikes as demanded by the country's lenders in return for unlocking another tranche of bailout funds and to start discussions over debt relief.

The parliament nod came ahead of the Eurogroup meeting on May 22 when euro area finance ministers would consider disbursement of the bailout funds and discuss debt relief.

At the start of the month, Greece had reached a deal with its international creditors on reforms, thus paving the way for the disbursement of the next tranche of funds from the EUR 86 billion bailout agreed in 2015 and the start of talks on a possible debt relief.

It was these reforms that lawmakers approved on Thursday even as demonstrators, mainly public-sector trade unions, staged protests outside the parliament and hurled firebombs at police who responded with tear gas.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.57 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.70 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.45 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed 0.39 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.66 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.46 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.94 percent.

In Frankfurt, Wirecard climbed 2.69 percent after Goldman Sachs raised its price target on the stock.

In Paris, telecom giant Orange rose 0.49 percent after it entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire a controlling stake in Business & Decision.

Danone advanced 1.31 percent. The food group is targeting an operating margin of above 16 percent in 2020.

In London, Shire increased 0.78 percent after saying it would highlight new research on the treatment of chronic hypoparathyroidism at the upcoming 19th Annual Meeting of the European Congress of Endocrinology in Portugal on May 20-23.

Hikma Pharma climbed 2.12 percent after the drug-maker cut its full-year revenue forecasts, citing delays to the approval of its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's asthma drug.

Travel retailer Dufry soared 4.92 percent in Zurich after Richemont bought a 5 percent stake in the company.

Food group Aryzta rallied 4.19 percent after appointing Dublin Airport Authority Chief Executive Kevin Toland as its new chief executive.

Eurozone consumer confidence strengthened for a third consecutive month in May to its highest level in nearly a decade, preliminary data from the European Commission showed Friday. The flash consumer confidence index climbed to -3.3 from April's -3.6. Economists had forecast a score of -3.

The euro area current account surplus declined in March largely due to widening shortfall on secondary income, figures from the European Central Bank showed Friday. The current account surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted EUR 34.1 billion in March from a record EUR 37.8 billion in February.

Germany's producer prices increased at the fastest pace since late 2011, figures from Destatis showed Friday.

Producer prices grew by more-than-expected 3.4 percent year-on-year in April, faster than the 3.1 percent rise in March. This was the biggest increase since December 2011. Economists had forecast 3.2 percent increase.

British manufacturing order books improved in May and output growth picked up pace, the Industrial Trends Survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed Friday. The order book balance rose to 9 percent in May from 4 percent in April. The score was forecast to remain at 4 percent. The balance reached its highest level since February 2015.

British manufacturers and service providers were more confident that their turnover and profitability would increase in coming twelve months, the latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook published by the British Chambers of Commerce and DHL showed Friday.

The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index rose 5.5 percent in the first quarter from the prior three months. The indicator climbed 9.06 percent from the previous year to 126.55, standing at its second highest level since records began in 2004.

by RTT Staff Writer

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