Stock markets firmer ahead of weekend

London, Jan 13, 2017 (AFP) -Europe's main stock markets ended the week in an upbeat mood Friday, with London topping a new high, and prices on Wall Street modestly higher on the back of favourable results from banks.

"The FTSE 100 notched up another all-time high to round off a record-breaking week of gains," said Jasper Lawler at London Capital Group.

A steady opening on Wall Street, buoyed by a spate of solid bank earnings reports, helped prop up the European markets as they headed into the weekend.

"Shares of UK-listed banks including Barclays, RBS and HSBC responded positively to the US results," Lawler said.

Equities had retreated Thursday on investor disappointment over a lack of policy detail from United States President-elect Donald Trump and allegations of emissions cheating at Fiat Chrysler.

"Trump's first press conference was uninspiring, leaving intact all the uncertainty surrounding the course of the new administration," said UniCredit analyst Marco Valli.

The FTSE's record-breaking run has been driven by sterling weakness owing to ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

Next Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May will set out the long-awaited approach the government will take before triggering article 50, starting a two-year process that will take Britain out of the EU.

"If the Prime Minister confirms the UK will leave the single market in a 'Hard Brexit', the British pound could drop below 1.20 against the dollar," LCG's Lawler said.

- Renault skids on 'dieselgate' -

In the eurozone, French investors appeared to take in their stride news that Renault is being investigated for possible emissions cheating as the so-called "dieselgate" scandal that engulfed German giant Volkswagen 18 months ago spread to other auto makers.

While Renault shares ended the day 2.9 percent lower, the overall French market rose by 1.2 percent.

Italian-American group Fiat Chrysler had been targeted by US authorities just the day before, but strenuously denied the accusations and said it was sticking to its earnings targets.

After plunging more than 16 percent on Thursday, Fiat Chrysler shares bounced back on Friday to show a gain of 4.6 percent at the close.

In New York, two major US banks -- JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America -- posted strong earnings last year, pushing up the wider market.

And with expected economic stimulus and tax cuts likely to bring interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve, banks are expected to see continued profitability this year.

- China trade 'obstacles' -

Earlier in Asia, there was muted reaction to end-of-the-year data from China showing the world's number-two economy was still struggling on the trade front.

Hong Kong added 0.5 percent but Shanghai closed down 0.2 percent with little excitement over news that Chinese exports fell more than expected last month, while imports came in largely as expected.

Figures for the whole year showed exports down 7.7 percent and imports dropping 5.5 percent.

"There remain some obstacles facing China's foreign trade development," Customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters at a news conference announcing the results, adding the international trading environment was "severe and complex".

- Key figures around 1655 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 19,911.40 points

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,337.81 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 11,629.18 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 4,922.49 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.2 percent at 3,324.24 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 19,287.28 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,112.76 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 22,937.38 (close)

Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.0624

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2204 from $1.2146

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 115.04 yen from 115.22 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 51 cents at $52.50 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 30 cents at $55.71


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