The major markets across Europe are expected to open slightly lower on Friday morning ahead of the key employment report from the U.S, which might influence the hopes of stabilization in the global economy. A sharp rally in markets on Thursday as well as no firm commitment from leaders at G20 meeting for additional stimulus measures other than the pledge for $1.1 trillion for loans and guarantees might also weigh on the market sentiment.
On Thursday, the Dow closed up 216.48 points or 2.8% at 7,978, the Nasdaq closed up 51.03 points or 3.3% at 1,604 and the S&P 500 closed up 23.30 points or 2.9% at 834.
In Europe, the European Central Bank lowered its key interest rate by 25 basis points to a new low of 1.25%, defying expectations for a larger reduction of 50 basis points.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 4.88% higher at 781 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 5.02% to 1,928 points.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 4.28% to 4,125, while France's CAC 40 index surged up 5.37% to 2,992 and Germany's DAX index climbed 6.07% to 4,382.
In Asia-Pacific region, the markets extended their rally on hopes of stabilization in the global economy, led by financials and resource stocks. Commodity prices rose on London Mercantile Exchange advanced while gold prices declined sharply as investors preferred more risk taking in investments.
On the economic front, Germany's Federal Statistical Office said in a report that the import price index declined 6.4% year-over-year in February, after falling 5.4% in January. This was the biggest price decline since 1999, when prices fell 6.6%. A year ago, prices were up 4.8%. The import price index, excluding crude oil and mineral oil products, dropped 1.2% on an annual basis in February. On a monthly basis, import prices fell 0.1% in February, after a 0.5% decline in January. For the January to February period, import prices fell 0.1% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Meanwhile, export prices declined 1.2% year-on-year in February, compared with a 0.9% fall in the preceding month. A year earlier, export prices were up 1.6%.
The Purchasing Managers' Index for service sectors in Eurozone is on tap shortly after the markets open and may influence the market. In UK, the HM Treasury is slated to release data on UK's official reserves.
In corporate news, BSS Group Plc (BTSM.L) announced that it has acquired Direct Heating Spares from the Gough family shareholders for a cash consideration of GBP 5.7 million. Direct Heating Spares is a wholesaler and distributor of spare parts to the heating industry.
Smiths News PLC (NWS.L) announced that it has negotiated a new five-year contract with newspaper publisher Telegraph Media Group. This will be effective from Autumn 2009. The contract has a wholesale sales value of about £136 million per annum.
Electrocomponents plc (ECM.L) said it expects 2009 group headline profit before tax to be in a range of GBP 85 million -GBP 88 million. The company also estimates fiscal 2009 group sales to be around 5% higher than prior year.
Robinson Plc (RBN.L) reported profit after tax of GBP 909 thousand or 5.7 pence per share for the year ended 31 December 2008 compared to GBP 196 thousand or 1.2 pence per share last year. Pre-tax profit was GBP 1.35 million, higher than GBP 345 thousand in the prior year. Revenue grew to GBP 25.84 million from GBP 25.5 million a year ago.
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