Asian, European stocks boosted by breakthrough Korea summit

The summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's Moon Jae-in is the first in a decade

Asian and European stock markets advanced Friday with global investor sentiment boosted by a historic meeting of the leaders of North and South Korea.

However Wall Street treaded water as data showed that US economic growth slowed at the beginning of the year, although the annualized rate of 2.3 percent growth rate was better than many economists had feared. Earnings were mixed, with Amazon surging on better-than-expected earnings but ExxonMobil tumbling on disappointing earnings.

"European equity markets are higher ... after a strong finish in Asia," noted CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The historic meeting of the leaders of North and South Korea has given a boost to the geopolitical mood -- which was been tepid recently."

In Asia, Seoul's Kospi shares index was among the best performers and the won strengthened as the leaders of North and South Korea held talks.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in have agreed to pursue a permanent peace and the complete denuclearization of the divided peninsula, as they embraced after a historic summit laden with symbolism.

It was the highest-level encounter yet in a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy, and intended to pave the way for a much-anticipated encounter between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

But Kim did not mention denuclearization and analysts warned that while the summit was a good first step, similar promises had been made before and much remained to be done to resolve the issue of the North's atomic arsenal.

"The positive atmosphere of the summit will lead to a period of relative calm on and around the Korean Peninsula in the short-term, which will be positive for South Korea equities and the won," said a note from Eurasia Group that said the odds of complete denuclearization remained "poor."

"Nothing agreed to today locks North Korea into anything," the note said. "Nothing we have seen thus far leads us to believe that Kim Jong-un’s calculations on the necessity of a credible nuclear capability to deter threats of his regime being attacked or overthrown have changed."

- Pound plunges on slowdown -

The pound meanwhile plunged Friday as news of Britain's sharp economic slowdown extinguished hopes of an interest rate hike next month.

Gross domestic product grew by just 0.1 percent in the first quarter or three months to March, from 0.4 percent in the preceding quarter, official data showed.

"Suddenly Britain's growth looks brittle and bruised," said David Lamb, head of dealing at FEXCO Corporate Payments.

"The Bank of England, which barely a month ago was hinting bullishly at a May interest rate rise, will now be very wary of doing anything that could jeopardize things further."

The news sent the pound tumbling to a session low of $1.3747, a level unseen since January. And the European single currency rose as high as 87.85 pence per euro.

London's FTSE 100 index jumped 1.1 percent as the pound weakness lifted share prices of London-listed multinationals that derive the lion's share of their earnings in dollars.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 24,311.19 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,669.91 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP less than 0.1 percent at 7,119.80 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.1 percent at 7,502.21 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 12,580.87 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,483.19 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,518.43 (close)

Seoul - Kospi: UP 0.7 percent at 2,492.40 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 22,467.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 30,280.67 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,082.23 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3778 from $1.3919

Euro/pound: UP at 88.03 pence from 86.95 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2125 from $1.2103 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.13 yen from 109.30

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 10 cents at $74.64 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 9 cents at $68.10 per barrel

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