European stocks shrugged off early weakness and ended higher on Friday as traders picked up shares, tracking quarterly earnings and other corporate news.
Optimism about recovery amid signs of progress on the U.S. stimulus front and momentum in vaccination drive supported the markets.
Concerns about U.S.-China tensions weighed on sentiment. After a two-hour call with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Biden warned lawmakers that “If we don’t get moving, they are going to eat our lunch”.
The two leaders discussed a range of issues, including human rights, trade and security, according to the White House. Both appeared at odds on most issues.
The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.64%. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.94%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.6% and Germany’s DAX edged up 0.06%, while Switzerland’s SMI ended 0.25% up.
Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden ended higher.
Austria, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Turkey closed weak.
In the UK market, St. James Place, AstraZeneca, DCC, Prudential, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Smith DS, Just Eat Takeaway, Rentokil, Ocado Group, Severn Trent and Royal Dutch Shell gained 2 to 4%.
Kingfisher, Tesco, Whitbread, JD Sports Fashion and Fresnillo ended notably lower.
In the German market, Fresenius Medical Care, Thyssenkrupp, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Fresenius, Merck and Infineon Technologies gained 1 to 2.3%, while Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, SAP, Continental, Adidas, Lufthansa and Covestro ended with sharp to moderate losses.
In France, Essilor and Schneider Electric moved up more than 3%. LOreal gained after reporting stronger than expected sales in the fourth-quarter and issued a promising outlook.
Unibail Rodamco gained about 3%, bouncing back from losses in the previous session. Technip, BNP Paribas, Teleperformance and Credit Agricole also ended notably higher.
In economic news, In economic releases, official data showed the U.K. economy logged its biggest annual fall on record in 2020, with GDP falling 9.9%.
The report from the Office for National Statistics showed UK’s GDP grew 1% in the fourth quarter following a 16.1% growth in the third quarter. GDP grew 1.2% in December, after falling by a revised 2.3% in November.
The UK economy is set to contract more than the previous projection as stringent Covid-19 restrictions are expected to remain elevated until early spring, along with the effects of post-Brexit adjustment, the National Institute of Social and Economic research said.
Gross domestic product is forecast to decline 3.8% in the first quarter, instead of 3.4% estimated last month.
Switzerland’s consumer prices continued to decline in January, albeit at a softer pace, data from the Federal Statistical Office showed. The consumer price index decreased 0.5% year-on-year in January, following a 0.8% fall in December. Economists had expected a 0.6% fall.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.1% in January, reversing a 0.1% decline in the preceding month.
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