KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Stock markets pushed higher on Friday after new figures showed the European economic recovery gathered speed at the end of 2013.
The eurozone currency bloc saw its
economy grow 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, faster than the previous
three-month period's 0.1 percent and above expectations for 0.2 percent. That
shows the recovery is getting a foothold, both in the larger economies like
Germany and weaker ones like Italy. However, growth remains timid by historical
"The eurozone has been proceeding
slightly faster than expected," said Tom Rogers, senior economic adviser
at EY. He predicts, however, that growth will not be any higher than a muted 1
percent in 2014.
Germany's DAX was up 0.6 percent to
9,653.84 after the figures' release, while and the CAC-40 in France was up 0.4
percent to 4,331.59. The FTSE MIB in Italy, which saw its first economic growth
since 2011, rose a stronger 1.1 percent. The Milan index was also helped by an
expected handover of power in the government, with a new prime minister
expected to take over and give new momentum to structural reforms.
Elsewhere, Britain's FTSE 100 index
was flat at 6,661.92 and Wall Street was expected to be steady on the open.
Standard & Poor's 500 futures and Dow Jones futures were both flat.
Earlier, in Asia, Chinese shares rose
after a report showed consumer prices rose 2.5 percent in the year to January,
unchanged from December's rate. The rise in politically sensitive food costs
decelerated to 3.7 percent from December's 4.1 percent.
Lower inflation is one less
distraction for communist leaders as they focus on carrying out ambitious
promises of reforms aimed at making China's economy more productive and keeping
China's Shanghai Composite Index rose
0.8 percent to 2,115.85 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6 percent to
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent
to 1,940.28. But Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.5 percent to 14,313.03 as the yen
strengthened against the dollar, a negative for share prices of exporters.
Benchmark U.S. crude for March
delivery was down 50 cents at $99.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New
York Mercantile Exchange. The contract eased 2 cents to close at $100.35 on
In currency trading, the euro rose 0.1
percent to $1.3698 while the dollar fell 0.4 percent to 101.81 yen.