European stocks close higher awaiting Greek resolution

GMT 17:51 2015 Friday ,24 April

Arab Today, arab today European stocks close higher awaiting Greek resolution

The Greek flag (R)
London - AFP

European stock markets closed higher Friday on hopes embattled eurozone member Greece will take strides towards a debt deal to unlock bailout money.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 ended the day 0.24 percent higher at 7,070.70 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 finished 0.44 percent ahead at 5,201.45 points.

Frankfurt's benchmark DAX 30 index closed up 0.74 percent at 11,810.45 points, helped by data showing German business confidence at a 10-month high.

In Greece, the Athex index finished 3.39 percent higher after earlier gains Friday of over four percent. Madrid's stock market wound up 0.22 percent ahead, and Milan ended the day with a 0.98 percent rise.

On Wall Street, good earnings reports by Amazon, Microsoft and Google helped the Nasdaq Composite Index add to its new record high.

After finally breaking the 15-year record on Thursday with a 21-point gain, the Nasdaq added another 0.77 percent to 5,094.97 points during late morning trading in New York.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.07 percent to 18,070.67 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.24 percent to 2,112.93.

The euro firmed to $1.0865 from $1.0823 late in New York on Thursday.

"It has been a volatile week for global equity and commodity markets as the softer USD provided some support but fairly disappointing US economic data and ongoing concerns regarding Greece's economic stability continue to dominate the markets, bringing high volatility and nervous trading conditions," said Sucden senior research analyst Myrto Sokou.

- 'Intensify the efforts' -

Eurozone finance ministers met Friday in the Latvian capital Riga, but a senior EU official said there had so far been insufficient progress to unlock 7.2 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in remaining EU-IMF bailout funds that Greece needs to avoid a default and possible messy exit from the euro.

And despite tensions and signs of fraying tempers between Athens and its eurozone partners, comments made by officials seemed to convince investors a deal would eventually be struck.

"The current disagreements with our partners are not unbridgeable," said Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in Riga.
"Our message is very clear, we must accelerate starting today, always accelerate and intensify the efforts," concurred EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

Greek financial website Naftemporiki said the jump in the Athex index was due to investor "euphoria" following a meeting late Thursday between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a EU summit in Brussels.

On the corporate front, shares in HSBC leaped 2.86 percent to close at 629.70 pence after the global banking giant launched a review into whether it should remain headquartered in Britain amid a tightening of regulation and higher tax burdens being forced on the country's banks.

AstraZeneca meanwhile slid 1.67 percent to 4,749.50 pence after the British maker of drugs unveiled a partnership with French biotech firm Innate Pharma, which develops antibodies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Shares in Marseille-based Innate Pharma surged by 48.83 percent to 13.35 euros on the Paris stock market after even stronger gains earlier in the day.

In Asia, Shanghai and Tokyo shares were hit by profit-taking Friday but most other markets in the region rose following the Nasdaq's 15-year record high.

Tokyo, which hit its own 15-year high Thursday after a three-day rally, slipped 0.83 percent with a stronger yen also hitting exporters.


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