By Dow Jones Business News,
December 20, 2013, 11:58:00 AM EDT
By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets posted the strongest weekly gain since April on Friday, after U.S.
growth data provided further evidence of the country's recovery and German confidence figures pointed to a strong start
to the new year.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.5% to close at 321.14, for a weekly gain of 3.7%.
On Thursday, the benchmark saw its strongest rally since early September after the Fed decided late Wednesday to slow
its monthly asset purchases, showing confidence in the underlying strength of the U.S. economy. The decision came after
European markets had closed. The gains over the past days haven't, however, been enough to lift the index out of losses
for December, but investors have still not given up on the idea of a "Santa Rally."
"We think that the rally will continue, now that we have one of the biggest uncertainties removed out of the equation,
and the markets will keep grinding up in a thin volume due to the start of the holiday season," said Naeem Aslam, chief
market analyst at Ava Trade in emailed comments.
"There is no sign of Santa leaving the town," he added.
U.S. stocks also traded higher on Friday, buoyed by data showing the economy grew faster than expected in the third
In Europe on Friday, consumer-confidence data from both the U.K. and Germany were in focus. In Germany, GfK's forward-
looking consumer-sentiment indicator rose to 7.6 points in January from 7.4 points in December, to hit its highest level
since August 2007.
The picture was less bright in the U.K., however, where the December reading fell to -13 from -12, marking a third-
straight month of declines in consumer mood. The data follow retail figures released on Thursday, which showed shoppers
spent less than expected in November.
On a more upbeat note in the U.K., the Office for National Statistics said the economy grew more than previously
thought over the past year and revised up the year-on-year growth in gross domestic product to 1.9% from an earlier
estimate of 1.5%, largely due to higher consumer spending. Quarter-on-quarter, the ONS confirmed growth of 0.8%.
Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's cut its long-term credit rating on the European Union to AA+ from AAA, citing concerns
about contentious budget talks.
Among notable movers in Europe on Friday, SKF AB slid 6% after the Swedish ball-bearing maker said it will take a
provision of 3 billion ($456 million) Swedish kronor related to a European Commission competition probe.
Shares of BAE Systems PLC (BAESY) slid 4.5% in London after the government of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday
ended discussions to buy fighter jets from a consortium led by the British aerospace and defense firm.
Carnival PLC ( CCL ) gained 3.3% after Credit Suisse lifted the cruise-line operator to outperform from neutral.
For the country-specific indexes, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.7% to 9,400.18, ending 4.4% higher on the week.
France's CAC 40 index rose 0.4% to 4,193.77 and rose 3.3% on the week.The U.K.'sFTSE 100 index added 0.3% to
6,606.58 for a 2.6% weekly advance.
More must-reads from MarketWatch:
U.S. third-quarter revised up again, now 4.1%
Arora: The real reason Apple is falling
Weidner sees plenty of faults in Jamie Dimon's Christmas card
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.