Europe Closes Higher Despite Worries About Oil, Dollar
European stocks closed the week moderately higher, but volatility is seen ahead as investors worry about the effects of soaring oil prices and a weaker dollar on inflation in the U.S.
The London FTSE-100 , Paris CAC-40 and Frankfurt DAX were slightly higher, while the FTSE CNBC Global 300 was flat.
Wall Street traded higher in a broad rally as strong Oracle and Nike earnings boosted sentiment and quadruple witching options expiration - a quarterly event marked by the expiration of four different equity options and futures contracts - pumped up volume.
In Europe, the auto sector was the best performer of the session, after a Goldman Sachs upgrade, followed by basic resources, industrial goods and services and household goods.
The media sector was slightly in the red, while the utilities sector was flat due to profit taking, after having risen earlier in the week.
Shares in the banking sector were nearly flat.
Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland are informally discussing a collective move to borrow from the Bank of England's emergency facility in an attempt to encourage smaller financial firms that may be holding back, the Financial Times said.
Northern Rock See-Saws
Shares in beleaguered Northern Rock see-sawed after a paper reported that it refused help from JPMorgan and as bargain-hunters stepped in to grab the stock in the hope of future gains. Northern Rock shares closed 4.9% higher.
Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis prepared to raise its share of the 72 billion euro ($98 billion) needed to buy ABN Amro, along with Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander. Fortis set a price of 15 euros ($21.15) per share for its 13 billion euros rights issue. Shares of Fortis closed nearly flat.
In economic news, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet spoke out against political pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy late on Thursday. Trichet reiterated that Central bank independence is crucial to its functioning, following calls form Sarkozy to cut European interest rates.
However, another French official, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, said Friday the European Central Bank needs to look at the impact of the high-flying euro when it meets next month and draw the appropriate lessons.
The strength of the single European currency was causing problems for Airbus. CEO Fabrice Bregier told BFM radio the plane maker would have to find another billion euros in savings for its Power 8 restructuring plan. Shares of Airbus parent EADS closed 0.4% higher.
Finnish paper maker Stora Enso's shares soared 5.8% after it agreed to sell its North American business unit to NewPage Holding for $2.52 billion.
Jouko Karvinen, Stora Enso CEO, told "European Closing Bell" that his company will focus on its core region but feared cost inflation due to price rises in energy and raw materials.
"The European market is still very solid," Karvinen said, adding that Stora Enso was also considering starting operations in emerging markets such as Brazil, China and Russia.