Singapore Markets closed

European stocks, euro eke out gains

European stock markets climbed slightly and the euro nudged higher against the dollar on Thursday as traders reacted to mixed eurozone economic data and weaker-than-expected outlook for the global economy.

London's FTSE 100 index of top companies rose 0.30 percent to 6,216.15 points in late morning deals, as Frankfurt's DAX 30 inched up 0.19 percent to 7,709.06 points and in Paris the CAC 40 won 0.25 percent to 3,735.66.

Madrid's IBEX 35 advanced by 0.23 percent in value to stand at 8,633.50 points, despite poor Spanish unemployment figures.

In foreign exchange trade, the European single currency edged up to $1.3319 from $1.3315 late in New York on Wednesday.

On the London Bullion Market, gold prices dropped to $1,676.05 an ounce from $1,690.25.

Private business activity across the eurozone hit a 10-month high in January, according to a leading growth indicator released on Thursday.

The Purchasing Managers' Index published by London-based Markit researchers, a survey of thousands of eurozone companies, logged 48.2 points in compared to 47.2 points the previous month.

"The fact that this PMI data were better than expected has been sufficient to give risk appetite another fillip," said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank.

"However, these data continue to point to further contraction across both manufacturing and services sectors," she added.

Spain announced that its unemployment rate surged to a modern-day record of 26 percent in the final quarter of 2012, as nearly six million people searched in vain for work in a biting recession.

The jobless rate climbed from a rate of 25.02 percent the previous quarter, reaching the highest level since Spain returned to democracy after the death in 1975 of General Francisco Franco.

The data comes as Spain, the fourth-biggest economy in the 17-nation single currency area, delivers spending cuts and tax rises to save 150 billion euros ($194 billion) between 2012 and 2014.

The IMF said on Wednesday that the global economy would grow slightly less in 2013 than it previously expected, held back by a weak eurozone that will stay mired in recession for a second straight year.

"Downside risks remain significant, including prolonged stagnation in the euro area and excessive short-term fiscal tightening in the United States," the International Monetary Fund said, in an economic outlook update.

The IMF projected global gross domestic product (GDP) annual growth of 3.5 percent this year, a dip of 0.1 points from its October forecast, and 4.1 percent in 2014.

On Thursday, Asian stock markets closed mixed despite a positive overnight lead from Wall Street and news that Chinese manufacturing activity hit a two-year high in January, traders said.

The yen retreated after a two-day rally as Japan logged a record trade deficit for last year with exports hit by the ongoing territorial spat with China and Europe's long-running debt crisis.

Following the close on Wall Street, Apple released flat October-December first quarter earnings and sales of key products such as the iPhone 5 came in below expectations.

Wednesday's results sent shares in the computer giant slumping more than 10 percent in after-hours trade.