European stocks rise on upbeat Chinese, US data

European stock markets rose on Friday but the euro slipped against the dollar as investors took heart from upbeat Chinese and US economic data and EU leaders agreed on a seven-year budget for the 27-member union.

London's FTSE 100 index of top companies gained 0.57 percent to close at 6,263.93 points, while Frankfurt's DAX was 0.81 percent higher at 7,652.14 and the CAC 40 jumped by 1.35 percent to 3,649.50 points in Paris.

British banking stocks led the way, with Barclays gaining 2.09 percent to 298.6 pence and HSBC up by 2.33 percent to 716.7 pence.

In foreign exchange trading, the European single currency slipped to $1.3373 from $1.3395 late Thursday in New York, after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi gave a middling picture of the eurozone economy.

The market's mood "certainly wasnt helped by Draghis rather downbeat comments yesterday (Thursday), but in some ways he has helped because the last thing Europe needs right now is a stronger currency," said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

Gold prices stood at $1,668.25 an ounce on Friday, nearly unchanged from $1,668 Thursday on the London Bullion Market.

"Smashing Chinas trade numbers considered to be the most reliable indicators of Chinese economic performance inspired gains" on stock markets, Gekko Markets analyst Anita Paluch said.

On Wall Street, US stocks climbed in midday trading owing to an unexpected drop in the US trade deficit and the strong Chinese trade data, dealers said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.33 percent, the S&P 500 index rose 0.51 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.89 percent.

The US trade deficit shrank more than expected in December, to $38.5 billion instead of the $45.4 billion estimated by analysts.

Meanwhile, China's trade surplus rose sharply in January, with both exports and imports beating expectations, as the country maintained its economic recovery on improving demand.

Official Data showed the world's second biggest economy posting a trade surplus that was 7.7 percent higher year-on-year at $29.2 billion in January, beating a median $26.6 billion forecast of economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

At the same time Chinese inflation slowed to 2.0 percent in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said, easing from a seven-month peak of 2.5 percent in December.

In Brussels, European Union leaders finally clinched a deal on the bloc's 2014-2020 budget, succeeding where they had failed in November.

"Deal done!" summit chair and EU President Herman Van Rompuy said on Twitter after more than 24 hours of tough talks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had argued that the EU could not decide an increase at a time of austerity, said the agreement "shows that working with allies it is possible to take real steps towards reform in the European Union."

On sovereign debt markets, pressure eased on Italian and Spanish borrowing costs, with Italian 10-year debt trading at 4.555 percent, compared with 4.584 percent on Thursday.

Spanish 10-year bonds changed hands at 5.365 percent, down from 5.418 percent on Thursday.

Asian stock markets rose for the most part after the Chinese figures were released, but Tokyo was hit by a stronger yen and data that showed Japan had suffered its lowest current account surplus in nearly 30 years.

burs-wai/arp

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