- STOXX Europe 600 at five-year high
- Recent US data provides a boost
- UK retailers in focus after Boxing Day sales
jumps to two-year high after Weidmann comments
FTSE 100: 0.85%
Xetra DAX: 1.06%
CAC 40: 1.40%
IBEX 35: 0.82%
FTSE MIB: 1.39%
STOXX Europe 600: 1.02%
European stocks surged on Friday as markets reopened after the Christmas break, helped by upbeat economic data from the States and a strengthening euro.
The benchmark STOXX Europe 600 index rose 1.02% to 327.53 by the close, rising to levels not seen since mid-2008, as indices played catch-up with gains in the US and Asia overnight.
US markets hit new record highs on Thursday after data showed a sharp decline in jobless claims. Meanwhile, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index finished up 1.4% on the week - its best weekly performance in six weeks.
According to the Labor Department, weekly initial jobless claims dropped by 42,000 to 338,000 in the week ended December 21st. While seasonal factors make it hard to predict applications for unemployment benefits, analysts on the whole had expected a higher figure of 345,000.
This follows data amid a shortened session on Christmas Eve which showed that durable goods orders and new-home sales exceeded expectations.
Back in Europe, UK retailers were in focus as investors reacted to upbeat Boxing Day data which showed that more shoppers hit stores to take advantage of the sales this year. Some £2.22bn is estimated to have been spent in stores yesterday, up 5.7% year-on-year, according to the Centre for Retail Research, while online spend was up 15% at a new record of £540m. Analysts are also estimating that spending on Friday could be even higher.
Acting as a backdrop, the euro surged to its highest in over two years against the dollars after European Central Bank member Jens Weidmann was quoted as saying that interest rates should rise if inflationary pressures increase. He warned that low inflation should not be a reason to keep rates at the current low levels.
The euro was up 0.55%, or 0.0076, on the day at $1.3767 after earlier hitting $1.3893, its highest since October 2011.
Department store chain Debenhams was making gains despite rumours that its Finance Director Simon Herrick could be leaving the company amid growing criticism of his recent performance. High Street groups Marks & Spencer, Next and Ted Baker were all advancing, along with supermarket peers Tesco, Morrison and Sainsbury.
Electrawinds SE saw its shares
leap after the renewable energy firm, alongside its Electrawinds NV business, was granted court protection allowing it to negotiate with its creditors for a period of three months.
Sector peer Vestas Wind Systems also rose after winning an order from an unnamed customer in the States.
International Personal Finance plummeted after saying on Tuesday that its Polish unit had been fined in the region of £2.4m.
BAE Systems continued to rise strongly in the UK after it on Monday won a $1bn deal to upgrade a number of South Korean fighter jets.