Europe Politics

European Markets Close Higher; UK Economy Falls to Record 9.9% Slump in 2020

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  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by about 0.6%, with media shares climbing 1.5% as most sectors and major bourses finished in positive territory.
  • Official figures published Friday showed the U.K. economy slumped 9.9% in 2020, posting its biggest annual fall in output since modern records began.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Friday, as investors monitored a fresh batch of economic data and the gathering pace of vaccinations against Covid-19.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by about 0.6% provisionally, with media shares climbing 1.5% and tech up 1.3% as most sectors and major bourses finished in positive territory. For the week, the Stoxx 600 closed up 1%.

The mixed session comes after muted trade in Asia Pacific due to the Lunar New Year holiday.

Stateside, stocks fluctuated near record levels on Friday as Wall Street's strong momentum to start February fizzled this week.

Back in Europe, official figures published Friday showed the U.K. economy slumped 9.9% in 2020, posting its biggest annual fall in output since modern records began.

In the final three months of 2020, however, the U.K.'s GDP (gross domestic product) rose 1%, as the country once again imposed nationwide lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid infections.

Russia's central bank held its key interest rate at a record low of 4.25% on Friday, following a recent surge in inflation that indicates further monetary policy easing could be off the agenda.

Russia has also indicated that it is prepared to cut ties with the European Union, according to a fragment of an interview published on Russia's foreign ministry website Friday morning, the latest in a series of escalating tensions with the bloc.

Earnings continued to drive individual share price movement, with Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Store Nord climbing 7.1% and Dutch bank ING Groep adding 6.7% after strong fourth-quarter earnings. German mass media company ProSiebenSat.1 also gained 6.4%.

At the bottom of the European blue-chip index, Austrian electricity company Verbund tumbled 9% and Spanish renewable energy supplier EDP Renovaveis dropped 7.5%.

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