Europe Markets

Europe ends sharply higher on oil; miners rally; RBS tanks

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European markets finished sharply higher on Friday, buoyed by a recovery in mining stocks and oil prices, on top of a positive set of company updates.

The pan-European STOXX 600 came off session highs, but closed up 1.5 percent provisionally, with almost all sectors closing in the green. On the week, the STOXX 600 also closed up around 1.6 percent.

London's FTSE 100 jumped 1.4 percent, supported by a rally in mining stocks, while France's CAC was 1.6 percent up and Germany's DAX jumped 2 percent.

US GDP revised up

Stocks were boosted by a number of factors on Friday, from data out of the U.S. to a recovery in commodities.

U.S. GDP increased at an annual rate of 1 percent instead of the previous estimate of 0.7 percent, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters expected a figure of 0.4 percent.

Oil in focus

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Oil prices rebounded on Friday, as strong U.S. demand in gasoline demand and disruptions in supply helped overcome concerns surrounding a global glut. Brent came off sessions highs but remained on track for its first weekly gain in a month, last hovering at $36.23, while U.S. WTI crude was slightly up at $33.47.

Consequently, oil stocks jumped, including top performer Tullow Oil finishing some 10.7 percent up, with Shell and BP also finishing over 3 percent higher.

Basic Resources was Europe's best performing sector following a sharp rise in metal prices, closing up some 3.9 percent. Anglo American and Glencore both closed sharply higher, up 6.7 and 8 percent respectively.

Aside from commodities, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) head governor Zhou Xiaochuan said the central bank still has policy tools available to combat any downside risks to the economy, highlighting potential further easing. This gave a helping hand to stocks, easing concerns over China's growth.

Earnings: RBS tanks 7%

On the earnings front, Royal Bank of Scotland reported a full-year loss of £1.97 billion ($2.76 billion), narrowing from the £3.47 billion recorded the year before. RBS, which is owned partly by the government after being bailed out during the financial crisis, has not turned a profit since 2008. The bank's stock tanked as much as 10 percent before closing down over 7 percent.

Elsewhere in the banking sector, Denmark's Erste Bank was off 2 percent despite the lender reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit.

And (IAG), the owner of British Airways, posted a 65 percent rise in annual operating profit, beating analyst estimates. Shares however closed sharply lower, off over 3 percent.

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In other news, the London Stock Exchange said its merger with Deutsche Boerse will be a U.K. PLC domiciled in London and will have headquarters in London and Frankfurt. On completion of the deal, current chief executive Xavier Rolet will step down from his role, with Carsten Kengeter taking the reigns. Shares in the LSE finished almost 7 percent higher.

Fashion house, Burberry jumped 7.5 percent, after Nomura upgraded it from "neutral" to "buy".

Spain's Gamesa shot up 5.8 percent after Societe Generale raised its price target for the stock.

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