In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 closed around 0.1% higher, with sectors and major bourses mostly in positive territory. Looking at individual stocks, Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Store Nord’s shares jumped to the top of the European benchmark, gaining almost 8% after the company upgraded its revenue growth guidance following a strong start to the year. Meanwhile, Italian payments group Nexi priced its IPO at 9 euros per share on Friday, unveiling what is set to be one of Europe’s biggest initial public offerings this year.
In Currency Markets the U.S. dollar fell on Friday to its lowest against the euro in more than two weeks on reports a foreign bank was preparing to fund an acquisition of a European company, while signs of economic stabilization in China and a strong start to U.S. corporate earnings season boosted demand for riskier assets. The euro was 0.6% higher against the dollar at $1.1317, its highest since March 26. Dealers attributed part of the euro’s strength to anticipated currency demand arising from a Japanese bank’s plans to purchase a German multibillion-dollar aviation finance business.
In Commodities Markets oil prices rose on Friday as involuntary supply cuts from Venezuela and Iran plus conflict in Libya supported perceptions of a tightening market, already underpinned by a production reduction deal from OPEC and its allies. Brent crude oil futures were at $71.47 a barrel, up 64 cents or 0.90 percent and heading for their third weekly gain in a row. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.20, up 62 cents or about 1 percent. The head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation warned on Friday that renewed fighting could wipe out crude production in the country.
In US Equity Markets the S&P 500 crossed the 2,900 mark for the first time since early October on Friday, boosted by a jump in Walt Disney shares and as bank stocks jumped after strong results from JPMorgan. Shares of the largest U.S. bank by assets rose 3.83% after the company beat quarterly profit estimates, easing fears that slowing economic growth could weigh on its results. The S&P financial index rose 1.43%, providing the biggest boost to the main index. The S&P 500 was up 0.44%, at 2,900.99 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.23%, at 7,965.99.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields rose to three-week highs on Friday as risk appetite increased after data showed Chinese exports rebounded in March, easing concerns about slowing global growth. U.S. yields have risen for two straight sessions on both the long and short end, fueled as well by generally solid U.S. economic data this week. U.S. 10-year note yields were higher, at 2.54%, up from 2.50% late on Thursday. U.S. yields also moved in line with the European bond market, with 10-year German bind yields rising to three-week highs.