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European stocks close higher as investors digest GDP data; NatWest slides 4%

Source: CNBC

European stock markets closed higher Friday as traders digested fresh economic data and more corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.6% higher after dropping earlier in the session. Banks shed Thursday’s optimism and fell 1.4%, while utilities closed down 0.3%. Oil and gas led gains, up 1.9%. For the month, the benchmark closed up 1.87%.

The euro zone economy grew by 0.1% in the first quarter of the year, preliminary figures showed on Friday, even as Germany’s GDP flatlined over the period. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast quarterly growth of 0.2%.

Elsewhere, banking sector nerves have been somewhat revived by U.S. regional bank First Republic, which is seeking a recovery strategy after its stock plunged on news it lost around 40% of its deposits in the first quarter.

On Friday, British bank NatWest results showed a 37.2% annual increase in income to £1.036 billion ($1.29 billion), while its net interest margin was up 7 basis points on the prior quarter to 3.27%. However, shares in the bank fell as much as 3.7%.

Mercedes-Benz reported a fall in year-on-year earnings but still beat forecasts. The company raised its sales outlook for vans and said car sales would come in on the high end of guidance.

U.S. stocks were slightly higher Friday as investors pore over results from some of the country’s biggest companies, including Amazon and Intel.

In Asia-Pacific, markets closed higher after the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged. It was expected in the first meeting chaired by new governor Kazuo Ueda.


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