Eurozone stocks edge higher as weak data offsets China support
Eurozone stock markets rose only slightly Friday as the bloc's weak economic data offset hopes China would ease its long-running crackdown on the tech sector -- news that sent Asian equities soaring.
In foreign exchange, the dollar dropped on profit-taking after surging to multi-years highs against the yen and euro this week with the US Federal Reserve set to aggressively hike interest rates to combat soaring inflation.
By contrast, Russia's central bank on Friday said it was cutting its key interest rate for a second straight time, noting that risks of price rises and financial instability were no longer on the rise.
The rate will fall to 14 percent from 17 on Wednesday.
Market sentiment remains fragile as traders operate under the shadows of the Ukraine war, soaring inflation, US interest rate hikes and China's Covid lockdowns.
The eurozone economy felt the fallout from the Ukraine war as output slowed and inflation stayed at record levels in the first quarter, official data showed Friday, imperilling Europe's recovery from the pandemic.
But there was some much-needed good news for China's embattled tech sector.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that a meeting of the government's decision-making body ended with officials saying it was "necessary to promote the healthy development of the platform economy" and "complete its rectification".
The report suggests an easing of the sweeping clampdown on the country's biggest firms.
In the Politburo meeting, chaired by Xi Jinping, officials also said there was a need to "respond to market concerns in a timely manner".
Hong Kong stock markets closed up four percent Friday and Shanghai put on more than two percent.
In the US, a healthy earnings update from Facebook parent Meta on Thursday helped to offset poorly-received results from Apple and Amazon.
- ExxonMobil profits soar -
Elsewhere, oil prices jumped Friday as tight Russian supply fears help to offset weaker demand concerns fuelled by China's lockdowns.
ExxonMobil reported that first-quarter profits more than doubled to $5.5 billion as high oil prices more than made up for costs connected to exiting its Sakhalin project in Russia.
The US energy giant last month announced a phased withdrawal from the giant Sakhalin offshore oil field that it has operated since 1995 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The shift resulted in a $3.4 billion hit in one-time costs during quarter.
Elsewhere, US market regulators said Tesla chief Elon Musk had sold about $4 billion worth of shares in the electric carmaker in the days after Twitter's board agreed to his mega takeover of the social media platform.
- Key figures at around 1115 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,512.19 points
Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.5 percent at 14,055.28
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 6,522.46
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,791.72
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 4.0 percent at 21,089.39 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.4 percent at 3,047.06 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday
New York - Dow: UP 1.9 percent at 33,916.39 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0567 from $1.0509 late Thursday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2569 from $1.2468
Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.06 pence from 84.25 pence
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 130 yen from 130.79 yen
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.7 percent at $109.38 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $106.33 per barrel
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