- Earnings on Friday came from Nationwide Building Society and Richemont.
- U.K. retail sales jumped 9.2% in April, double the average projection in a Reuters poll of economists, official data showed Friday, indicating that pent-up consumer demand is beginning to kick in.
LONDON — European markets closed higher on Friday with attention turning to key economic data from the euro zone and the U.K.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 had risen 0.6% by the close, with autos adding 1% to lead gains as nearly all sectors and major bourses finished in positive territory.
U.K. economic activity posted its strongest growth on record in May, according to flash PMI (purchasing managers' index) readings published Friday. The IHS Markit composite PMI hit 62.0, its highest since the survey was launched in 1998 and up from 60.7 the previous month, as British services firms reopened following a prolonged lockdown period and manufacturers benefited from the global demand recovery.
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In the euro zone, business growth hit its fastest pace for more than three years as the vaccine rollout gathered pace and more businesses in the bloc's dominant services sector reopened. The initial flash composite PMI came in at 56.9 compared to April's 53.8.
U.K. retail sales also jumped 9.2% in April, double the average projection in a Reuters poll of economists, official data showed Friday, indicating that pent-up consumer demand is beginning to kick in.
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On Wall Street Friday, U.S. stocks rose for a second day in a broad-based rally as major averages clawed back their losses from earlier in the week.
Stocks on the move
Richemont shares jumped 5% after the Swiss luxury goods company proposed doubling its dividend after a 38% rise in net profit for its fiscal year 2020/21.
Swedish business group Lifco gained 6% to lead the Stoxx 600 after a series of ratings upgrades.
Lufthansa shares fell more than 6% after the Thiele family, its second-largest shareholder, offloaded more than half of its stake in the airline following the death of Heinz Hermann Thiele.
Swedish investment firm Kinnevik fell 8% to the bottom of the European blue chip index.
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