Europe Markets Close Higher as Investors Digest Fed Comments; Volkswagen Up 11%

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This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

European stock markets followed the global positive trend Friday, extending the previous session's gains as investors take stock following the slew of economic data published this week.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.9% at market close, as auto stocks added 3.6% and mining stocks gained 2.2%. Oil and gas stocks were among the few sectors to post losses, down 0.4%.

Volkswagen led auto gains with shares up over 11.2% during afternoon deals after the carmaker posted a better-than-expected outlook for 2023.

Across Europe, inflation data came in hotter than expected. A flash estimate for the euro zone showed headline inflation eased from 8.6% to 8.5%, but this was above a consensus estimate; while core inflation rose from 5.3% to 5.6%.

Price rises unexpectedly accelerated in GermanyFrance and Spain.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Thursday that getting inflation to its 2% target will still take time and that the previously signaled 50 basis point hike in March is still on the cards, Reuters reported.

The euro zone manufacturing PMI out this week showed a fall on the previous month, though S&P Global said it was pulled down by stocks of purchases and that production volumes across the bloc had broadly stabilized.

Global markets were given a boost Thursday by comments from Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic, who said he was "firmly in favor" of quarter-point hikes and that the U.S. central bank should go "slow and steady." The Dow had its best day since Feb. 13 as risk-on assets climbed.

However, in a separate speech, Fed Governor Christopher J. Waller raised the possibility of a higher terminal rate if inflation does not cool, citing January's bumper payrolls report.

A positive signal for the global economy came on Wednesday, when China's National Bureau of Statistics reported its official manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 52.6 in February, the highest since April 2012. Another survey showed services activity accelerated at its fastest pace in six months.

Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher Friday, while U.S. equity markets also opened higher.

Volkswagen gains 9% on improved 2023 forecast

Volkswagen topped the pan-European Stoxx 600 index mid-afternoon after shares increased 9.4% on a better-than-expected 2023 forecast.

The German car manufacturer said it expected supply chain issues to improve and for sales to increase to up to 331 billion euros ($352 billion) this year.

Volkswagen said it expects to deliver 9.5 million vehicles in 2023, which is an increase of more than 14% year-on-year.

The increase in share price is the highest positive intraday change since December 2021, when the price increased by around 9.8%.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

U.S. equity markets open higher

U.S. equities rose Friday as the 10-year Treasury yield dipped back below 4%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 77 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 climbed 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5%.

Markets are suffering from ‘recession-avoided syndrome,’ chief economist says

Allianz Chief Economist Ludovic Subran told CNBC that "the picture isn't very rosy" for markets right now, and that they're suffering from "recession-avoided syndrome."

"Markets aren't getting the memo," Subran said, "it's as if they've been ignoring the last couple of months."

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points in February in an attempt to quash inflation, and announced intentions to hike by a further 50 points in March.

Subran added that he didn't think Europe was on the cusp of another debt crisis, but that countries need to be aware of changes in the economic environment.

"We are walking a tightrope [but] we can avoid going into full debt crisis," Subran said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

British chip giant Arm chooses New York listing in a blow to London

British chip designer Arm, owned by Japan's SoftBank, and building materials group CRH intend to shun London and pursue stock market listings in the U.S., dealing a blow to the U.K.'s post-Brexit vision.

Arm said in a statement Friday that it was seeking to pursue a U.S.-only listing this year. It comes shortly after CRH, one of the FTSE 100′s biggest companies, said it plans to move its primary stock market listing to New York.

Read the full story here.

— Sam Meredith

Look at companies benefiting from energy efficiency moves, sustainable equity advisor says

Deirdre Copper, head of sustainable equity at asset management firm Ninety One, discusses the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, why Europe is lagging on policy, and the need to grasp the detail in sustainable investing.

Macroeconomic pressures are providing opportunities in the edtech market, Pearson CEO says

Andy Bird, CEO of Pearson, discusses the company's full-year earnings, and the merits of having a healthy balance sheet in an uncertain macroeconomic environment.

ECB's de Guindos says post-March hiking decisions will be data-dependent

The vice president of the European Central Bank said Friday that the path of interest rate hikes after March would be data-dependent.

"We're going from an energy shock to another with different drivers such as salaries and fiscal policy," Luis de Guindos said at an event in Madrid, according to a Reuters report.

De Guindos also said the bank expects headline inflation to decelerate in the coming months, and that he believed it may be lower than 6% around the middle of the year.

Euro zone headline inflation eased slightly in February, but core inflation rose from 5.3% to 5.6%. De Guindos said core inflation, which strips out food and energy prices, is likely to stabilize in the coming months.

At its February meeting, the ECB took the unusual step of announcing its intention to hike interest rates by another 50 basis points in March, as it seeks to give the market firm guidance. Its key rate currently stands at 2.5%.

— Jenni Reid

Stocks on the move: Bachem up 5%, Umg down 4.4%

Stock movements were relatively muted Friday morning, as major bourses traded higher.

Swiss biotech firm Bachem led the Stoxx 600 index, up 5.3% after it announced it had signed a 500 million Swiss franc ($533 million) five-year deal to provide peptides for a joint development project.

Universal Music Group dipped 4.4%, a day after reporting full-year results, with adjusted pre-tax earnings up 23.3% annually to 620 million euros ($658 million) — slightly below expectations.

— Jenni Reid

Europe markets open higher

European stock markets were off to a strong start on Friday as they look to claw back losses from earlier in the week.

The Stoxx 600 was up 0.5% shortly after the open, with tech stocks leading gains.

Germany's DAX gained 0.6%, France's CAC 40 was up 0.4% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.23%.

— Jenni Reid

Goldman Sachs says these 8 beaten-up stocks will turn profitable this year — and outperform the market

Goldman Sachs has named eight global stocks of companies that will become profitable this year and beat the broader market.

In a new research report, the investment bank found that companies that transition from unprofitable to profitable during a market recovery typically outperform the broader market.

According to Goldman, this phenomenon was observed in 2001 and 2008, with outperformance above 50% in each instance.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

China's services sector activity grows at fastest rate in six months: Caixin survey

China's service sector activity expanded at the fastest rate in six months, as its services purchasing managers index for February rose to 55, sharply higher than the 52.9 recorded in January.

In its report, Caixin said this was also faster than the series average of 53.7. The 50-point mark separates expansion and contraction in activity on a monthly basis.

The upturn, Caixin reported, was supported by the strongest rise in new business since April 2021 as the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions helped to lift customer numbers and demand.

New export order growth also accelerated, hitting the highest in almost four years.

— Lim Hui Jie

Europe markets set top open higher

The major European stock market indexes were on course for a higher open Friday.

The FTSE 100 was seen opening 23 points higher at 7965.6, according to data from

France's CAC 40 was up 28.7 points to 7306.6, Germany's DAX up 51 points to 15,365.2, and Italy's MIB up 142.5 points to 27,576.

— Jenni Reid

‘Data is the new oil’: Investor picks one stock to play the trend

Artificial intelligence is all the rage right now. And according to tech investor Mark Hawtin, there's a smart way to jump on the trend: playing the data theme.

AI has taken Wall Street by storm since since ChatGPT was launched and went viral — causing a surge in interest among investors in what stocks could benefit from the trend.

Stocks such as tech giant Microsoft, which backed ChatGPT, Alphabet — which developed a chatbot — as well as semiconductor firms like Nvidia have come up as obvious plays on AI. ChatGPT was created by San Francisco-based OpenAI, a private company backed by Microsoft. It can answer questions, write essays and more.

But Hawtin, investment director at Zurich-based GAM Investments, has identified data as another way to get into the game.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

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