LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stock indices held recent gains on Friday, aided by expectations that the weak euro will help exporters and that worse-than-expected U.S. data on Thursday could prompt the Fed to postpone inevitable rate rises beyond the middle of the year.

The FTSE 100 edged up 0.06% to 6,765.34. In Frankfurt, the DAX rose 0.21% to 11,823.59, and in Paris, the CAC 40 was up 0.15% at 4,995.04. U.S. data out Thursday showed an unexpected fall in February retail sales.

In London, oil explorer Afren (AFRNF) tumbled about 14% after announcing a debt restructuring deal that will leave existing shareholders with about 11% of the equity.

Pubs operator J.D. Wetherspoon (JDWPF) was down almost 4% after announcing that first-half profit slipped about 1% because of pressure from supermarkets and that it probably won't improve upon last year's second-half performance. It won't lift the first-half dividend from a year earlier. In a salvo to coffee bars, it said it will cut prices on its breakfast products from next week to lure more customers.

In Frankfurt, Commerzbank (CRZBY) led the DAX higher on relief over a $1.45 billion U.S. fine announced yesterday to settle probes into money laundering and sanctions violations.

In Madrid, Banco de Sabadell (BNDSY) fell for a second day on expectations it may sell new stock to pay for its planned $2.6 billion purchase of TSB Banking (TSBBY) in the U.K.

In Johannesburg, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings was down more than 5% after GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) - Get Report, the leading U.K. drugmaker, sold a 6.2% stake to raise R10.5 billion.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei closed up 1.39% at 19,254.25, a near-15-year high, and the Topix rose 0.89% to 1,560.33. Industrial robot maker Fanuc closed up more than 13% after its president told the Nikkei newspaper that it is planning to lift its dividend and buy back stock. The company has come pressure from Daniel Loeb's activist investor Third Point.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 0.11% to 23,823.12. Mainland Chinese indices rallied to two-month highs with banks enjoying a second day of large gains after the government released information about a local government debt swap, which is seen as strengthening banks' balance sheets.