European stocks firmed after mixed U.S. data.
Productivity accelerated to a 0.9% annual rate in Q2 following
two quarters of declines, the Labor Department estimated.
Economists were expecting productivity to increase 0.7%.
However, housing starts rose 5.9% in July to a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 896,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch
had expected overall housing starts in July to hit an annual rate
Consumer sentiment also unexpectedly declined in August. The
preliminary reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan
index fell to 80 from 85.1 in July, missing the 85.2 median
estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Around the region, the eurozone's current account dropped to
16.9 billion euros ($22.45 billion) after May's downwardly revised
EUR19.5 billion. The data are adjusted for seasonal effects and
take into account the number of working days each month.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports in June rose 3.0% from
May, while imports were up by 2.5%, the strongest rise since
In ADR news, Royal Bank of Scotland (
) is cut to sell from hold at Investec Plc, which said its forecast
for no improvement in RBS' return on equity this year means that
its valuation will probably not rise further.
STMicroelectronics NV (
) was lowered to underweight from neutral at HSBC. Analysts said
increasing price pressure and a soft smartphone market is hurting
its MEMs (micro electro mechanical system) chips business.
The FTSE-100 was last up 0.26% at 6,499.99, the DAX up 0.19% at
8,391.94 and the CAC-40 up 0.75% at 4,123.89.
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