European stocks take heart from improving growth outlook

European stocks take heart from improving growth outlook

London Stock Exchange LSE
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LONDON: European stock markets mostly rose on Wednesday (Apr 17) as strong data from the world's two top economies sparked fresh hope for the growth outlook.

"Global growth concerns seem to be cooling," analysts at Charles Schwab said.

US numbers released before Wall Street's opening bell showed that the trade deficit in February fell to its lowest level in eight months, thanks in part to rising aircraft and auto exports, according to government data released on Wednesday.

"This better than expected trade situation creates a really good platform for 1Q GDP growth," James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, said of the US data.

Earlier, Beijing reported that the Chinese economy expanded 6.4 per cent in January-March, the same as the previous quarter but better than forecast by analysts in an AFP poll.

The news follows a number of readings indicating stability in China, with factory activity, exports, new loans and inflation all improving - tempering concerns about a slowdown that could have a major impact on the global economy.

Markets nevertheless remain concerned over a broader Chinese economic slowdown - and Beijing's ongoing trade war with Washington.

'NOT AS BAD AS FEARED'

"The longer term trend is very much against China, but these numbers may at least suggest all is not as bad as feared," noted Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"And if a trade deal is struck in the coming months with the US, as many expect, perhaps things could even improve."

ThinkMarkets analyst Naeem Aslam added that the data handed a boost to the overall outlook.

"The truth is that the handoff from feeble economic numbers to strong economic numbers is here and this is good news," he said.

"Let's not forget, improving economic conditions over in China means better economic health of the global economy."

Eurozone stock markets were firmly in positive territory at the close, while London lagged its peers as the pound strengthened.

Among individual stocks, shares in Italian club Juventus fell more than 17 per cent in late Milan trading after Cristiano Ronaldo's side were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Ajax.

Wall Street was slightly softer in the late New York morning as signs of a looming EU-US trade spat cooled investor sentiment after the EU unveiled a wide-ranging list of US-made goods, from beeswax to car parts, subject to tariffs in retaliation for subsidies to Boeing.

Meanwhile, the US corporate earnings season rumbled on providing, on balance, support to stock prices.

Elsewhere, oil prices managed to extend gains after a US industry group reported a surprise drop in stockpiles, while OPEC-led output cuts and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela kept a supply glut in check.

Key figures around 1545 GMT:

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,471.32 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 per cent at 12,153.07 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 per cent at 5,563.09 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 per cent at 3,477.73

New York - Dow: FLAT at 26,446.99

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3036 from US$1.3048 at 2100 GMT on Tuesday

Euro/pound: UP at 86.69 pence from 86.45 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1300 from US$1.1281

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.01 yen from 112.00 yen

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 per cent at 22,277.97 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: FLAT at 30,124.68 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 per cent at 3,263.12 (close)

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 3 cents at US$71.75 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 2 cents at US$64.07 per barrel

Source: AFP/de

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