European stocks booked solid early gains Friday after strong factory data underpinned the region's economic recovery and an influential policymaker at the European Central Bank poured cold water on prospects for an early interest rate hike.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.5% higher in the opening hour of trading as markets around the region extended gains amid a decline in the single currency, which fell 0.21% to 1.1884 against the U.S. dollar after Ewald Nowotny, who heads Austria's central bank, said that as long as Eurozone inflation remains low, there's no need to increase ECB interest rates.
Those remarks came just before IHS Markit published its final reading of manufacturing sector activity around the currency area last month, which held at the highest levels since 2011 and has remained above the mark which separates growth from contraction for 50 consecutive months.
"The survey indicates that euro area manufacturing output is growing at an annual rate of approximately 4%," said IHS Markit's chief economist, Chris Williamson. "Producers across the region are benefitting from rising domestic demand as economic recoveries gain momentum, as well as surging export sales."
Vivendi SA (VIVHY) shares were an early mover of note in European trading, rising the most in ten months after the French media group topped second quarter profit forecasts late Thursday and confirmed its full year outlook.
Vivendi, which is controlled by billionaire investor Vincent Bollore and owns both Universal Music Group and France's Canal Plus television network, posted operating earnings of €203 million in the three months ending in June, firmly ahead of the consensus forecast of €183 million and 16% higher than the same period last year. Group revenues rose 8.7%, the company said, to €2.74 billion.
UMG, the world's biggest music label, saw a massive 53.8% surge in earnings to €152 million, the company said, thanks in no small part to the popularity of 'Despacito', which recently became the world's most-downloaded single which has sat at the top of Billboard's Top 100 for a record-tying 16 weeks.
Overnight in Asia, stocks took a bullish cue from Wall Street but failed to follow-though with significant gains on the first trading day of the month despite another solid ready of economic activity from China, where the Caixin PMI index showed growth accelerating to the fastest pace in 6 months.
A modestly weaker U.S. dollar, however, which gave back some of its recent gains after a slower-than-expected reading of the U.S. Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge -- the core personal consumption expenditures index -- and only modest gains for consumer spending.
The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.15% higher by 09:15 London time while the benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.2% higher to close at 19,691.47 points and notch its first weekly gain in nearly two months.
Global oil prices reversed some of Thursday's gains in late Asia trading, taking around 1% from West Texas Intermediate crude futures for October delivery, which were changing hands at $46.76 each at the start of European trading. Brent contracts for November, the new global benchmark, were seen at $52.49 each, around 0.7% lower from Thursday's close.
Wall Street is looking at modest gains to start the session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average expected to open 0.16% higher, but much will depend on the detail in the August employment report, the last reading of the U.S. labor market prior to the Federal Reserve's two-day rate setting meeting which begins on Sept. 19.
Economists are looking for around 180,000 new jobs last month, down from 206,000 in July and marginally lower than the 2017 average of 184,000. Wage growth on a monthly basis is expected to slow to around 0.2% from July's reading of 0.3% and the headline unemployment rate is slated to remain unchanged at 4.3%
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