By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets posted gains Friday, helped by a strong end to Thursday's session on Wall Street, positive corporate news and better than expected Chinese industrial production data.
At 4:25 AM ET (0825 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 1.3% higher, France's CAC 40 rose 0.9%, while the U.K.'s FTSE index was up 1.2%.
Earlier Friday, China reported that its industrial production increased 3.9% year-on-year in April, beating analyst forecasts of a 1.5% increase and giving a sign that the Chinese industrial juggernaut is picking up steam again. However, for a second straight month,retail sales lagged badly, slumping 7.5% year-on-year.
Closer to home, the latest reading for first-quarter GDP in Germany confirmed a 2.2% slump, its steepest three-month decline since the 2009 financial crisis.
In corporate news, Swiss luxury group Richemont fell 2.2% after warning that the luxury sector could take three years to recover from the current crisis.
In the U.K., BT Group (LON:BT) jumped 7% after the Financial Times reported it was in talks to sell a multi-billion pound stake in its wholly owned network subsidiary, Openreach, to infrastructure investors.
Bookmaker William Hill (LON:WMH) soared over 10% as it managed to obtain from its banks latitude regarding some debt covenants, news that overshadowed the inevitable slump in revenue due to the total absence of sport and the closure of its betting shops.
French manufacturer Imerys (PA:IMTP) climbed 14% after saying it had reached an agreement to resolve legal liabilities regarding its North America talc unit.
Overnight, the major indices on Wall Street all closed higher, aided by sharp gains towards the end of the session as a White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump was open to another possible stimulus bill, but will not sign the bill put forward by House of Representatives Democrats.
The Democrats had put forward another relief bill, totalling $3 trillion, earlier in the week, but this had been rebuffed by the Republicans. That Trump could support another bill, presumably drafted by his party this time, helped dilute fears that there would be no more largesse coming from the federal government.
Oil futures caught the positive tone Friday, helped by the industrial production data out of China, the world's largest importer of crude.
At 4:25 AM ET, U.S. crude June futures traded 2.8% higher at $28.34 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 2.9% to $32.03.
Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,745.25/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0817, up 0.1%.