Stocks rally on upbeat economic data

·3-min read
Retail data was different in the UK and US but boosted stock market sentiment in both cases

Stock markets rose Friday after German, UK and US economic data provided a brighter outlook for major economies worldwide.

London, Paris and Frankfurt extended a global rally heading into the weekend, buoyed by upbeat UK retail data and strong German business sentiment.

US stocks were helped by government data that showed no sign of rising inflation in February, soothing fears that the world's biggest economy could overheat. Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed the week out at all-time highs.

Oil prices also bounded higher at the end of a rollercoaster week.

"Economic recovery optimism is boosting equity indices higher as we head towards the weekend," said OANDA analyst Sophie Griffiths.

"Better-than-forecast US initial jobless claims, rebounding UK retail sales and stronger-than-expected German business sentiment are boosting" markets, she added.

In the United States, a Commerce Department report also said that prices grew less than expected at 0.2 percent in February, easing concern that government stimulus measures would cause inflation and force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected.

"This period of hesitation and rotation going on since mid-February is coming to an end," said Karl Haeling of LBBW, who expects a strong April for stocks.

In Asia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Mumbai and Taipei had each added more than one percent to get the day off to a good start.

Even the widely-commented on blockage of the Suez Canal, a major transit route for global trade, failed to seriously dent market sentiment.

"We don’t foresee any long-lasting implications," Capital Economics analysts said.

"Countries will source commodities from elsewhere or draw down stocks until the canal reopens," they explained.

Others pointed to the accident as having contributed to higher crude oil prices, however.

- Europe's virus, vaccine woes -

Meanwhile, European traders tracked efforts to get vaccination programs rolling to stem another wave of infections.

Germany and France are among the countries that have come up with new containment measures, raising concerns the eurozone will take longer to emerge from the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 1.4 percent at 33,072.88 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 1.7 percent at 3,974.54 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.2 percent at 13,138.73 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.0 percent at 6,740.59 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 14,748.94 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,988.81 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,866.68 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.6 percent at 29,176.70 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.6 percent at 28,336.43 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.6 percent at 3,418.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1794 from $1.1764 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3792 from $1.3734

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.49 pence from 85.66 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.63 yen from 109.19 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 4.1 percent at $60.97 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 4.2 percent at $64.57 per barrel