Europe Markets

Europe closes slightly up, German data disappoints

Europe closes slightly up, German data disappoints

European shares closed slightly up on Friday, having wavered throughout the day, after weak German business morale figures capped any significant gains.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index closed provisionally up 0.2 percent to 1,368.64 points. Sentiment failed to receive a boost after weak data from Germany. The closely watched Ifo business climate survey showed a small drip in May from the month before. The figure of 110.4 was also below estimates from economists in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, revised German gross domestic product figures for the first quarter came in at 0.8 percent (quarter-on-quarter), as expected. Italian retail sales for March showed a fall of 0.2 percent as consumer demand in the country continues to stagnate.

Elections eyed

The polls for European elections opened on Thursday with 751 seats at stake at the European Union's (EU) Parliament, which forms part of its legislative arm. With the financial transaction tax, the banking union and market regulations still on the agenda, market participants are keen for the status quo to be maintained, to decrease uncertainty.

However, fringe politics and anti-EU parties have grown in strength in the five years since the last election and Greece's fragile coalition is seen vulnerable, with snap national elections a possibility. Italy is also seen as another potential hotspot with a relatively new coalition government set to be tested. With Ukrainian presidential elections also due at the weekend, investors might look to take some risk off the table.

"With more populist members, the next European Parliament will likely be governed by an establishment grand coalition designed to thwart them. In this, the European Parliament resembles most of its national counterparts in Europe," Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute said in a research note.

U.S. had stocks opened higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 positioned for its first weekly advance in three, as investors looked to a report on the sale of new homes in April.

Pandora falls

In stocks news, shares of U.K. engineering group Smiths closed slightly up. It shares had suffered after it warned on profitability at its detection unit, which manufacturers sensors that detect and identify explosives and weapons.

Pandora shares closed lower on Friday. Earlier it had announced that shareholders at the jewelry maker would sell 13 million shares to institutional investors.

Barclays shares closed up around 1 percent after it was fined $43.8 million for failings surrounding the setting of gold prices.

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