Stocks boosted by bright eurozone business data

·3-min read
Major indices posted gains following consecutive declines, as investors bet on the strength of the reopening economy and appeared to put aside concerns about inflation

Most stock markets posted gains Friday on growing evidence of economic recovery as Covid restrictions recede, dealers said.

Frankfurt stocks added 0.5 percent overall, and Paris won 0.7 percent as exchanges headed into the weekend.

London was flat however, as investors had already priced in an expected surge in British retail sales as the UK economy gradually emerges from a lockdown period.

In New York, the Dow Jones index was up by 0.6 percent in midday trading.

Oil prices took a stab at recovering from this week's sharp selloff meanwhile, while the euro declined against the dollar.

Investor sentiment brightened after survey data showed eurozone business activity growing at its fastest rate in three years, as Europe's economy emerges from months of Covid-19 restrictions.

IHS Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) index said eurozone activity rose from 53.8 in April to a strong 56.9 in May, well above the 50-point level that indicates growth.

The group also revealed that Britain's activity enjoyed record growth in May, jumping to 62.0 thanks to strength in manufacturing and services.

"European bourses are moving broadly higher, extending strong gains from the previous session as optimism surrounding the economic outlook brightens," said analyst Sophie Griffiths at trading firm OANDA.

"Covid cases on the continent are declining, lockdown restrictions are easing, and economic data is strengthening."

She added that the region appeared to be mounting a "powerful rebound" from its Covid-induced recession.

Asian equities fluctuated, as investors battled to track a rally on Wall Street that came in response to another positive read on US jobless claims.

Sentiment in the region continues to be torn between inflation fears and optimism over the economic recovery.

Asia's week finished on a mixed note despite data showing the number of people applying for US unemployment benefits fell for a third straight week to a new pandemic-era low, reinforcing expectations the recovery was well on track, helped by huge government and central bank support.

Bitcoin traded for around $37,500 at the end of a topsy-turvy week for digital currencies.

- Oil rises after selloff -

Oil prices continued to move higher following a sharp drop that was caused by signs that the Iran nuclear deal could be back on.

The European Union has talked up hopes that negotiations involving Russia, China and the United States can succeed.

Indirect talks between Washington and Tehran have been taking place in Vienna since early April, with the other five countries signatory to the deal acting as intermediaries.

Iran is a major producer of crude oil, and an international agreement could result in additional supplies arriving on global markets.

- Key figures around 1700 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 34,301.30 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 4,025.78

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,018.05 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 15,450.84 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 6,386.41 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 28,317.83 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: FLAT at 28,458.44 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,486.56 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2185 from $1.2228 at 2100 GMT on Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4167 from $1.4190

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.01 pence from 86.16 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.92 yen from 109.22 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.7 percent at $66.84 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.3 percent at $63.97 per barrel

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