News Column

European Stocks Fluctuate Before US Data

May 2, 2014

VIENNA (Alliance News) - European stocks are trading mixed on Friday before the release of US jobs and factory orders data due later in the day. A cautious mood prevails, although losses are capped amid fresh signs of corporate takeover activity.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is moving down 0.3% and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major UK companies, is down 0.1%.

Around Europe, France's CAC 40 is losing 0.4% while the German DAX and the UK'sFTSE 100 are marginally higher.

Software AG shares are tumbling 3.1% in Frankfurt. The infrastructure software firm backed its growth forecast for fiscal 2014 operating earnings after reporting a 32% decline in first-quarter net income.

Bayer AG is moving up 0.4% on a report it is close to a deal to buy Merck & Co Inc.'s consumer healthcare unit.

Shares of health care company Merck KGAA are declining 1.1%. Reckitt Benckiser Group said it was no longer in active discussions to buy the Merck business.

AstraZeneca PLC. shares are declining 0.8% in London after US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. announced it has submitted a revised proposal to the UK-based drug maker to make an offer to combine the two companies. AstraZeneca, meanwhile, said its board would discuss the proposal.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC. shares are up a whopping 10%. The lender reported a sharp increase in its first-quarter profit, reflecting one-off gains as well as a fall in impairment losses in its Irish division.

Shares of Redhall Group PLC. are tumbling around 15% after the specialist engineering support services company said it has increased its exceptional restructuring provisions following a review.

TeliaSonera AB shares are gaining 1.9% in Stockholm. The Swedish telecommunications firm said that it has appointed Henriette Wendt as Head of Group Corporate Development.

In economic releases, the unemployment rate in the euro zone held steady for a third successive month in March, after revisions to data from the previous months, figures from Eurostat showed. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 11.8%, unchanged from February. Economists had expected the figure to hold steady at February's original 11.9%.

Germany's manufacturing sector grew for the tenth successive month in April, as production increased at the second-fastest rate since May 2011, survey results from Markit Economics showed. The French manufacturing activity grew more than initially estimated in April, with the headline PMI Index coming in at 51.2 compared to the initial estimate of 50.9.

The British currency retreated against other major currencies as data from HSBC and Markit showed the UK construction activity expanded slowly in April, reaching its weakest level since October 2013.

Elsewhere, Asian stocks saw lackluster movements as most markets resumed trading following Thursday's Labor Day holiday. Investors digested mixed data out of China and the US and awaited the all-important US non-farm payrolls report later in the day to determine whether job gains in April are consistent with the pace prior to the brutal winter.

Trading in the US index futures indicate a modestly higher open after a lackluster finish the day before.

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Source: Alliance News

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