European stocks diverge over Chinese GDP
Market watch top headlines
LONDON, Jan 18 AFP
January 19 2013, 04:35AM
European share trading posted mixed results on Friday, with London gaining on Chinese growth data that beat expectations while Frankfurt and Paris slipped back on disappointing European and US figures.
London's FTSE 100 index of top companies gained 0.36 per cent to 6,154.41, despite official data which revealed falling British retail sales in December.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index slid 0.07 per cent to 3,741.58 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 index shed 0.43 per cent to 7,702.23 points.
In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency eased to $1.3298 from $1.3375 late on Thursday in New York. On the London Bullion Market, gold prices increased to $1,688.50 an ounce from $1,675.
"While the better than expected Chinese GDP numbers may have boosted the resource heavy FTSE 100 they've done precious little to boost the rest of Europe's markets," said Toby Morris, a trader at CMC Markets UK.
Asian shares posted strong gains earlier in the day after China released data showing a strong pick-up in the economy for the past four months, while Japanese stocks were boosted by another fall in the yen's value, which should help exporters.
Tokyo soared 2.86 per cent, Hong Kong rose 1.12 per cent, Seoul added 0.69 per cent and Shanghai put on 1.41 per cent.
Beijing said the world's number two economy expanded by 7.8 per cent in 2012, better than the government target of 7.5 per cent, but nonetheless marking a second straight year of easing owing to weakness in key overseas markets.
It also said that gross domestic product grew 7.9 per cent in the October-December period, snapping seven straight quarters of slowing growth.
Economists surveyed by AFP had projected GDP growth of 7.7 per cent in 2012 and 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.
The figures reinforce recent indications that the Chinese economy will not come crashing down, but rather that it is emerging from a drawn-out slumber that has had a knock-on effect on activity in other countries.
London-listed mining stocks were boosted in early trading on the news of solid growth in China, which is a major consumer of raw materials, but the gains disappeared as the day wore on.
Rio Tinto nonetheless rebounded by 1.83 per cent to 3,502.5 pence. The stock had fallen on Thursday after the resignation of chief executive Tom Albanese following shock news of a huge $US14 billion ($A13.34 billion) write-down on assets.
But Morris said other markets "struggled to make headway against a backdrop of a GDP downgrade for Italy from the Bank of Italy, and another rise in non-performing loans in the Spanish banking sector.
Italy's central bank said the country's economy is likely to contract by 1.0 per cent this year, half the expected shrinkage in 2012, but far worse than a previously expected downturn of 0.2 per cent in the coming 12 months.
Meanwhile Spain's central bank said the mountain of bad loans held by Spanish banks reached a new record in November, with more than one in nine at risk of not being repaid.
And British retail sales fell 0.1 per cent in December despite the key Christmas shopping period, amid weak consumer spending that pushed several high-street chains to the point of collapse.
US stocks were down in midday trade on earnings disappointments, especially from Intel, and Boeing's 787 problems continued to weigh on the market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.14 per cent to 13,576.93 points, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.27 per cent to 1,476.91 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 0.50 per cent to 3,120.21 points.
Chipmaker Intel sank 6.6 per cent after a poor fourth-quarter earnings report, with a 31 per cent drop in profit.
Boeing, facing more trouble with its Dreamliner plane, fell back by 1.0 per cent following a rebound of 1.2 per cent on Thursday.
General Electric added 2.9 per cent however after reporting a 7.5 per cent rise in fourth-quarter profit, with chief executive Jeffrey Immelt expressing measured confidence for 2013.
AT&T shares rebounded from early losses to show a 0.2 per cent gain following its after-trade announcement Thursday that it would take a $10 billion charge on fourth-quarter earnings to account for a sharp cut in its forecast earnings at its pension fund.