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European Markets Close Lower On Weak Euro Zone GDP Data

European markets closed mostly lower on Friday, as data showing a contraction in euro zone economic growth outweighed encouraging earnings reports from a few top name companies.

Uncertainty about the pace of global economic rebound due to continued spikes in coronavirus cases in the Asian region, especially in India and Japan, hurt as well.

The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 0.31%. Germany's DAX ended 0.12% down and France's CAC 40 shed 0.53%, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged up 0.12%. Switzerland's SMI declined 0.52%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey all ended weak.

In the UK market, AstraZeneca gained 4.3% on strong results. The pharmaceutical giant said it generated $275m in revenue from its non-profit Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter.

Smurfit Kappa Group shares gained 4.2%, also on strong earnings. The provider of paper-based packaging solutions reported that its first-quarter underlying revenue growth was 6% from last year.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Hargreaves Lansdown, ICP, Imperial Brands, Rolls-Royce Holdings, M&G, Severn Trent, United Utilities, British American Tobacco, National Grid and B&M moved up 2 to 3.1%.

On the other hand, Barclays Group shed 7% despite reporting a quarterly profit that more than doubled. Ocado Group lost 4% and Flutter Entertainment shed 3.2%.

BNP Paribas despite reporting better-than-expected profit, helped by lower provisions for pandemic-related bad loans and a rebound in equity trading.

Anglo American, Weir Group, Antofagasta, DCC, Aveva and Polymetal International also ended notably lower.

In France, STMicroElectronics, ArcelorMittal, Faurecia, Accor, Essilor, Air France-KLM, Pernod Ricard and LVMH ended sharply lower. BNP Paribas declined despite reporting better-than-expected profit.

Kering, Saint Gobain, Bouygues, Vinci and Carrefour ended with sharp to moderate gains. Safran rose sharply after maintaining full-year forecasts.

In the German market, BASF tumbled nearly 5%. Adidas, HeidelbergCement, SAP and Covestro also closed weak.

MTU Aero Engines rallied nearly 5% and Fresenius gained about 2.5%. Lufthansa, Fresenius Medical Care and Bayer also closed on firm note.

In economic releases, Eurozone GDP shrank by 0.6% in the first three months of this year as slow vaccine rollout and ongoing lockdowns delayed recovery, new figures from Eurostat showed.

The euro zone jobless rate fell to 8.1% in March, down from 8.2% in February and better than expectation of 8.3%.

France's inflation rose to a 14-month high in April on higher energy and services prices, preliminary data from the statistical office Insee showed. In a separate communiqué, the statistical office showed that household consumption declined sharply in March due to the significant fall in manufactured goods purchases.

Consumer price inflation rose to 1.3% in April, as expected, from 1.1% in March. This was the highest since February 2020, when the rate was 1.4%.

U.K. house prices grew 2.1% month-on-month in April, the biggest monthly rise since February 2004, data published by the Nationwide Building Society showed. Economists had forecast an increase of 0.5% after posting a 0.3% drop in March.

On a yearly basis, house prices inflation rose to 7.1% from 5.7% in March. The rate was expected to slow to 5% in April.

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