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European Equity Benchmarks Close Higher on Rising Bank, Automotive, Mining Stocks

The broad-based major European indices closed higher in Friday trading led by banks, automotive and mining stocks.

In economic news, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell 0.2% in the euro area (EA19), and remained unchanged in the EU28 in February compared with January, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In January, industrial production grew 1.9% in the euro area, and 1.3% in the EU28. Compared with February 2018, industrial production decreased 0.3% in February in the euro area, and increased 0.3% in the EU28.

Compared with January, February production of energy fell 3.0%, both capital goods and durable consumer goods fell 0.4%, and intermediate goods dropped 0.1%, while production of non-durable consumer goods rose 0.9%. In the EU28, production of energy fell by 2.2% and capital goods by 0.2%, while production of durable consumer goods remained unchanged. Intermediate goods rose by 0.2% and non-durable consumer goods by 0.7%.

The largest monthly decreases in industrial production were registered in Lithuania (-4.7%), Greece (-2.7%) and Croatia (-2.3%), while the highest increases were in Poland (+1.7%), Bulgaria (+1.5%) and Hungary (+1.0%).

Compared with February 2018, production of energy and intermediate goods in the euro area fell 5.9% and 0.6% respectively in February, while production of durable consumer goods, capital goods, and non-durable consumer goods rose 0.2%, 0.5%, and 2.8% respectively. In the EU28, production of non-durable consumer goods rose 3.1%, durable consumer goods gained 0.7%, capital was up 0.5%, and intermediate goods rose 0.4%, while production of energy fell 4.4%.

The largest annual decreases in industrial production were in Latvia (-3.1%), Portugal (-2.9%) and Germany (-2.0%), while the highest increases were in Poland (+6.8%), Bulgaria (+6.6%), and Hungary (+5.9%).

In Germany, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported that the selling prices in wholesale trade increased 1.8% in March from the same month of the preceding year. In February and January the annual rates of change had been +1.6% and +1.1%, respectively, while from February to March the index rose 0.3%.

In France, the price of oil in euros increased for the third-month in a row in March, according to the Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). The price of North Sea crude oil (Brent) in euros increased for the third-month in a row in March, rising 3.8% after climbing 8.3% in February, to an average of EUR59 per barrel. In dollars, the price increased 3.4% in March, after rising 7.7% the previous month.

INSEE also reported that the number of business creations for all enterprises rebounded in March, rising 1.3% after falling 1.3% in February, on a seasonally and working-day adjusted basis. Conventional businesses start-ups increased 2.0% after rising 1.7% in February.

Over the last 12 months, the raw number of business start-ups continued its sharp rise, increasing 17.3% after rising 16.9% in February and January each. All the types of business start-ups increased, led by micro-entrepreneurs' registrations, which surged 28.5%.

And in Spain, the annual change of the CPI for March stands at 1.3%, two tenths more than the previous month, according to the Spanish Statistical Institute (INE). The annual change of core inflation is 0.7%.

In equities, mining stocks helped buoy the FTSE in London as Glencore, Antofagasta, and Evraz rose 3%, 2.2%, and 1.8% respectively. Bank Standard Chartered led all gainers, climbing 3.5%, followed by packaging companies DS Smith and Smurfit Kappa Group, which were up 3.3% and 2.6%. Asset management firm Schroders increased 2.3%, while bottling company Coca-Cola HBC, and telecommunications operator Vodafone were up 2.2% and 1.8% respectively.

In Frankfurt, chemicals company BASF, and semiconductor company Infineon led the DAX higher, rising 3.1% and 3% respectively, followed by adhesives manufacturer Covestro, which climbed 2.9%. Automotive stocks also rallied as automakers BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen increased 2.4%, 2.2%, and 1.5% respectively, while tire maker Continental was up 1.7%. Deutsche Bank closed 2.2% higher while industrial conglomerate Siemens moved up 1.4%.

And in Paris, banks helped boost the CAC as Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, and Credit Agricole climbed 4%, 3.4%, and 3.1% respectively. Automotive stocks also helped the market move higher as auto parts supplier Valeo, and tire maker Michelin gained 3.2% and 2% respectively, while automakers Peugeot and Renault were up 1.9% and 1.5%.

The FTSE rose 0.26%, the DAX gained 0.54%, and the CAC-40 increased 0.31%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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