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Europe: Stocks upbeat but retail earnings weigh on Wall Street

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 06:25

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[NEW YORK] Equity markets in Frankfurt and London finished at records Friday, while US stocks were dented for a second straight session by weak retailer earnings.

European equity markets, already in a more upbeat mood after France's market-friendly presidential election outcome last weekend, pushed higher after data showed the German economy expanded at a robust 0.6 per cent in the first quarter, compared with the previous three months.

The DAX index in Germany closed up 0.5 per cent, while Paris rose 0.4 per cent. The euro also advanced against the US dollar, which fell on lackluster US economic data.

Emmanuel Macron will be sworn in as French president on Sunday and is expected to line up a government the following day, giving a first indication of the outlook for his economic reform plans.

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Analysts have cheered his victory last Sunday.

"Political uncertainties are either out of the way or have receded further," said analyst Florian Hense of Berenberg bank.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index reached a new record closing high as sterling weakness boosted the earnings outlook for big British exporters.

In the US, both the Dow and S&P 500 finished lower after disappointing results from JC Penney and Nordstrom. Both of those department store chains fell steeply, while other retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy and Gap, posted smaller declines.

Nikkei retreats

Earlier in Asia, traders took a step back ahead of the weekend with confidence rattled by a series of below-par Chinese data and the lingering fallout of Donald Trump's shock firing of the head of the FBI, which some fear could lead to a crisis that will knock the president's economy-boosting agenda off center.

Tokyo's Nikkei index closed down 0.4 per cent from a 17-month high, but Hong Kong rose 0.1 per cent, extending a rally to five days. Bloomberg News reported, without naming sources, that China had made preparations to support the Hang Seng Index if needed ahead of the expected visit of President Xi Xinping to the city for the July 1 handover celebrations.

Shanghai - which has fallen about 7 per cent in the past month on worries about a state crackdown on leveraged investing - ended up 0.7 per cent with speculation mainland shares were also being given state backing.

AFP

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