Most European indices rose after reports showing improvements in German and French economic growth, but Britain’s FTSE 100 lagged behind.
Germany’s economy grew by 0.4% in the last quarter of 2013, while France registered GDP growth of 0.4%, according to preliminary statistics.
The figures were slightly better than expected, prompting speculation that the European Central Bank may now resist a rate cut in March. ‘Marginally higher growth rates in Germany and France (0.3%) make it somewhat less likely that the unexpected fall of inflation causes the ECB to lower its key interest rates in early March,’ commented Joerg Kraemer of Commerzbank.
German and French benchmark indices rose by around 0.4%, while the euro was flat at $1.3680.
In London, the FTSE 100 traded slightly lower at 6,653.
At the top of the index, Fresnillo (FRES.L, up 3.7% to 957p) and Randgold (RRS.L, up 1.2% at £47.47) benefited from gains in the spot prices of silver and gold, with the two precious metals up 2.1% to $20.88 and 0.5% to $1,309 per ounce respectively.
The FTSE 100 had snapped a six-day winning streak on Thursday, as investors sold shares in Rolls Royce and Tate & Lyle after disappointing financial updates.
The Footsie’s gains of around 2.3% so far in February come in sharp contrast to January’s 3.5% sell-off, which was prompted by fears over the health of emerging markets and the impact of the gradual end of US stimulus.
Next week there will be plenty of major economic data to test investors’ nerves, with reports on Chinese manufacturing and US housing among the highlights.