In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by around 0.3 percent, with most sectors and major bourses ending in positive territory. Europe's basic resources stocks led the gains during afternoon trade, closing up by around 2 percent. France's Sopra Steria Group rose to the top of the European benchmark. The consultancy group reported full-year revenue jumped almost 7 percent in 2018 and forecast a slight improvement in operating margin on business activity. Shares of the Paris-listed stock rose more than 17 percent on the news.
In Currency Markets sterling traded around the $1.30 mark on Friday but was set to snap a three-week losing streak as investors waited to see if last-minute talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union can yield tweaks to the Brexit withdrawal agreement. The pound is headed for a 1.2 percent rise for the week, breaking three consecutive weeks of losses. On a weekly basis, it was also the best performing currency among its major rivals. The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Friday he could not rule out the possibility that Britain’s EU withdrawal would be pushed back.
In Commodities Markets oil prices touched more than three-month highs on Friday, supported by rising hopes that the United States and China would soon reach a deal to end their trade war, but new record U.S. oil production limited gains. Brent crude futures briefly reached $67.73 a barrel, their strongest since mid-November. The global benchmark traded 10 cents higher at $67.17 a barrel. Brent was on track for a weekly gain of about 1.4 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 41 cents to $57.37 per barrel, after hitting $57.81 earlier on Friday.
In US Equity Markets stocks rose on Friday as technology shares were boosted by signs of progress in the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China. The S&P 500 was up 0.62 percent, at 2,792.03 and the Nasdaq rose 0.83 percent, at 7,521.80. Kraft Heinz Co fell 27.8 percent, weighing the most on the S&P 500 index, along with a 1.65 percent fall in Class B shares of the company’s controlling stakeholder, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The packaged food company posted a quarterly loss, disclosed an SEC probe and wrote down the value of its iconic Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.
In Bond Markets Italian government bond yields rose on Friday, reflecting caution among investors before a Fitch ratings review. Yields in broader euro zone debt markets fell, pushed down by a weak German business sentiment survey and concerns about U.S./European trade tensions. Germany’s 10-year bond yield was back below 0.10 percent and set for its biggest daily decline in two weeks. Italian two-year bond yields were last up 7 bps on the day at 0.54 percent. Ten-year yields rose 4 bps to 2.87 percent.