European Stocks Higher; Surprise U.K. Growth Helps Mood

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European Stocks Higher; Surprise U.K. Growth Helps Mood
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets traded higher Friday, helped by stronger than expected U.K. growth, as a torrid quarter dominated by central banks aggressively lifting interest rates draws to an end.

By 03:45 ET (07:45 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 1% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.8%, and U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.4%.

The U.K. economy grew in the second quarter, with gross domestic product rising 0.2%, a surprise improvement on the previous estimate of a fall of 0.1%, meaning a summer recession was averted despite the cost of living crisis. 

At the same time, French inflation unexpectedly slowed in September, as consumer prices in the euro area’s second-largest economy advanced 6.2% from a year ago in September, down from 6.6% in August.

The CPI release for the Eurozone as a whole is due later Friday and is likely to show an acceleration to an all-time high of 9.7%, piling the pressure on the European Central Bank to continue its aggressive monetary tightening.

Stock markets have struggled this quarter, with the benchmark STOXX 600 down around 5% for the July-September period, set to notch its third straight quarterly decline in what will be its longest such losing streak since 2011.

Official data from China earlier in the day showed that manufacturing activity unexpectedly grew in September, breaking two straight months of decline, but a separate private survey by Caixin painted a very different picture, as the country's manufacturing PMI shrank to 48.1 in September from 49.5 in the prior month.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host a Kremlin ceremony on Friday annexing the four regions of Ukraine that recently voted to join Russia in referendums condemned by Ukraine and the West.

The U.S. and the European Union are set to impose additional sanctions on Russia over this move, and EU energy ministers are scheduled to meet later Friday to discuss their options.

In corporate news, Webuild (BIT: WBD ) stock rose 2% after the Italian builder said it expected its commercial results for the year to "significantly exceed" guidance.

Oil prices rose Friday, but are heading for the first quarterly drop in two years on continued fears over a global economic slowdown.

Next week sees the latest get-together of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, amid speculation that the group will agree to cut crude output in order to support falling prices.

By 03:45 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $81.91 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.9% to $88.00. 

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.7% to $1,679.40/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 0.9825.

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