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Europe markets close up; oil in the spotlight

Europe markets close up; oil in the spotlight

European equities closed slightly higher Friday, as the oil and gas sector took another hit from tumbling prices.

Italy's Eni ended Friday down nearly 4 percent after it became the first oil major to announce that it would cut its dividend and trim its buyback program because of the low oil price. Across Europe the oil and gas sector took a 2.61 percent hit.

The FTSE ended the day 0.3 percent down, the German DAX was up 0.8 percent, while the French CAC gained 0.4 percent.

In the U.S., stocks traded lower on Friday by more than 1 percent lower as investors eyed weak inflation data amid renewed dollar strength and sharply lower oil prices..

Shares in Italian luxury group Tod's were suspended after they fell by around 7 percent in early trade on Friday. It ended the day 6.2 percent lower. It comes after the company blamed weakening sales at the start of 2014 on lower Chinese consumer demand.

Also Friday, Russia's central bank cut its main interest rate further in an effort to stimulate the country's sanctions-hit economy. The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) cut the key rate by 1 percentage point to 14 percent. The Russian ruble strengthened against the dollar following the decision.

Commerzbank gains 4%

Shares in Spanish bank Sabadell were off 2.2 percent on the day after a report by Reuters Thursday, citing an unnamed source, said the bank was considering a 1.5 billion euro ($1.6 billion) capital hike via a share issue to fund a possible bid for British bank TSB.

JD Wetherspoon, the U.K. pub operator, reported revenues were up 9 per cent in the 26 weeks to January 25, compared to the same time a year earlier, at £744.4 million ($1.1 billion). Depsite this, its shares slipped over 3 percent on Friday.

Shares in pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline were up 0.7 percent after it announced the sale of half its stake in South African drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare for $853 million.

In the green was Commerzbank, which gained around 5 percent Friday. It comes after news late Thursday that it had agreed to pay $1.45 billion to U.S. regulators, to settle claims that some transactions ran afoul of U.S. sanctions and money laundering laws.

Britain's Home Retail was also near the top of benchmarks after shares lost around 9 percent on Thursday following disappointing sales figures. Shares recovered to trade up 3.6 percent Friday.

'Productive' meeting

Greece remained in the spotlight as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president. It is expected to repay a 340 million euros ($360 million) tranche of its loan from the International Monetary Fund back on Friday.

Tsipras described the meeting as "productive" on Friday morning.

During a visit to meet his Austrian counterpart Thursday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that Greece had to help itself but was "certainly not a hopeless case."

However, he told Austrian broadcaster ORF that he could not rule out an accidental exit of the country from the euro zone - also known as a "Grexident," Reuters reported.