In European Equity Markets the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index closed slightly lower with major bourses and sectors pointing in different directions. Earnings were a major focus for European investors. Renault shares fell slightly after reporting a surprise 2019 loss. AstraZeneca shares were down 4% after it said its 2020 sales growth would take a hit from the coronavirus. And RBS shares sank 7% after it scaled back its returns target and slashed its investment back.
In Currency Markets the euro bounced against the greenback on Friday as U.S. stocks declined from record highs, though concerns about growth in the eurozone are expected to keep weighing on the single currency. The euro fell to $1.0826, the lowest since May 2017, before rebounding to $1.0856. It has fallen from $1.1095 on Feb. 3. Data also hinted at a soft European economy. Euro zone gross domestic product grew 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, in line with forecasts, while year-on-year growth was weaker than expected at 0.9%.
In Commodities Markets oil prices rose on Friday and were on track for their first weekly gain since early January as investors bet the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short-lived and hoped for further Chinese central bank stimulus to tackle any slowdown. Brent crude was up $1.05 cents or 1.9% at $57.39 a barrel. It has risen 5.4% since last Friday, its first weekly increase in six weeks. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 74 cents or 1.4% higher at $52.16 a barrel, up 3.7% for the week.
In US Equity Markets the S&P 500 and the Dow barely moved on Friday, as worries over an economic hit from the coronavirus outbreak refrained investors from making big bets ahead of a long weekend, while gains in Nvidia shares kept the Nasdaq in positive territory. Among other stocks, Expedia Inc jumped 10.3% after the online travel services company forecast strong quarterly core earnings amid coronavirus uncertainties. U.S. financial markets are closed on Monday for President’s Day.
In Bond Markets most government bond yields across the euro area edged lower on Friday, after bleak economic data from Germany added to concerns about the bloc’s economic outlook. Most 10-year bond yields in the euro area were 1-2 basis points (bps) lower on the day. Germany’s benchmark 10-year Bund yield was down 1.5 bps at -0.41%. It is down 22 bps so far this year, French and Dutch yields are roughly 28 bps lower each.