European stocks hit new record highs on Friday as investors absorbed strong data from China and a handful of company results. US stock futures remained largely stable after a record meeting also held on Wall Street.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index
rose 0.3% to 439.98 after rising to a record close of 438.55 on Thursday. The index was targeting its fourth straight weekly gain, up 0.7%. The German DAX
rose 0.4% to 15.25533, gains that if held will offset Thursday's record high for the index. The DAX is also aiming for its seventh weekly profit in a row, an increase of 0.5%.
The French CAC 40
gained 0.2% and the FTSE 100
added 0.4%. The Euro
was stable against the dollar, while the pound
fell 0.3% to $ 1.3739.
Investors welcomed data from China, which showed GDP growth of 18.3% in the first quarter, the fastest growth in history, although it slightly missed expectations. This corresponds to a growth of 0.6% in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago. Industrial production and retail sales also saw double-digit growth.
"China's outstanding economic pressures, coupled with better-than-expected US data Thursday, show that the global economic recovery is indeed picking up pace, and these prospects seem to justify the optimistic outlook for future risk-weighted assets," said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, to customers in a note.
The Dow Jones industrial average
and S&P 500 index
After further signs of recovery from the pandemic, as retail sales rose in March and unemployment benefits fell sharply, they also ended on Thursday with records. Dow
and Nasdaq 100 futures
were flat to lower.
The spread of COVID-19 took center stage after France recorded more than 100,000 deaths on Thursday, becoming the third European country to do so despite the pace of vaccinations has increased. Germany is also struggling with a third wave and is considering further restrictions.
Europe's already stalled vaccination program was beaten again this week after the Johnson & Johnson drug
said it would delay the planned rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine on the continent. Denmark became the first country on Wednesday to permanently stop using pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca
Vaccine, after news of its possible association with very rare cases of blood clots.
Read: Pfizer CEO believes people will need COVID-19 vaccination shots every year
Automakers led the way after data showed that car registrations in the European Union rose 87% in March, but compared to a low baseline in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions in place at the time.
rose nearly 3% after the automaker said, citing preliminary results, that earnings for the first quarter will be above market forecast thanks to solid performance from its Mercedes-Benz power unit.
revoked its sales forecast for 2021 after the German meal set maker said first-quarter sales and earnings should beat market forecasts. The shares rose 4%.
Industry earnings were led by Bank of Ireland financials
6% increase after announcing that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with KBC Bank Ireland to potentially acquire all of its active loan assets and liabilities.
said late Thursday that it expects higher first-quarter sales and earnings numbers that beat market expectations. The shares of the German cement manufacturer rose by 2%.