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Europe open: Greece moves back into the spotlight

Fri 19 May 2017 09:09 | A A A

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(ShareCast News) - Greece is in the spotlight at the end of the week even as the angst around the political situation in the US over the past few days appears to have calmed down, at least for the moment.

Against that backdrop, European stockmarkets began the day on the frontfoot in what was expected to be a quiet day - barring surprises - given the sparse economic calendar.

As of 0914 BST, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was up by 0.31% to 390.41, alongside gains of 0.28% for Germany's Dax which was at 12,624.97 and a rise of 0.46% for the FTSE Mibtel to 21.396.78.

In parallel, euro/dollar was moving up by 0.35% to 1.1138, with front month Brent crude oil futures gaining 0.96% to $53.02 per barrel on the ICE.

Overnight, the parliament in Athens approved the pension and tax cuts asked for by creditors before they released the next tranche of bailout aid and, perhaps, provided the country with debt relief.

However, while Greece's lenders had agreed to debt relief in principle, few details had been provided thus far.

Ahead of a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on 22 May, Greek prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said: "We deserve and we expect from Monday's Eurogroup a decision regulating debt relief which will correspond to the sacrifices of the Greek people."

In parallel, investor sentiment around recent events on Capitol Hill appeared to have stabilised for the moment.

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, said: "Investors are clearly still a little anxious about the political situation in the US, which showed to an extent on Wednesday, but as it stands I don't think they're too concerned.

"Wednesday's sell-off may have shocked a few people but US indices remain in the same range they've traded in for the last few months and as long as that remains the case, it would suggest that investors are not too concerned."

Factory gate prices in the Eurozone's largest economy advanced by 0.4% month-on-month in April with the annual rate of gains rising from 3.1% to 3.4% (consensus: 3.2%), according to the Federal Office of Statistics.

On the economic calendar for Friday, euro area current account figures for the month of March are scheduled for release at 07:00 BST, together with data on Belgian consumer confidence at 12:00 followed by euro area level figures for the same one hour later.

Stateside, the lone reference for today will be a speech from the president of the Federal Reserve bank of St.Louis, James Bullard, at 14:15 BST.

From a sector standpoint, the biggest gains on the Stoxx 600 were being seen in Automobile (0.95%) and Basic Resource stocks (0.97%).

To take note of, Barclays reiterated an 'underweight' view on Saint-Gobain and an 'overweight' stance on SAP.

At the individual level, shares in Dufry AG shot higher on news that Richemont had acquired a 5% stake in the travel retailer.

Meanwhile, Eutelsat reached a deal with Abertis to sell its 33.69% stake in Hispasat for €302m.

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