Markets

European markets close mixed, taking a breather after record highs

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Key Points
  • Fed Chairman Jerome Powell called the economic recovery "uneven," signaling that monetary policy will remain loose until a more robust recovery is attained.
  • Australia, the Philippines and the African Union have become the latest to limit or abandon purchases of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine over blood clot fears.
  • German industrial output in February fell 1.6% from the previous month, the Federal Statistics Office revealed Friday, well below a consensus forecast of a 1.5% rise.

LONDON — European markets closed mixed on Friday, struggling for direction after touching record highs in the previous session.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed fractionally above the flatline, with telecoms sliding 0.7% while health care stocks climbed 0.7% as sectors and bourses pointed in opposite directions.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 traded near its record high on Friday as U.S. stocks were set to wrap up the week with solid gains. Dovish comments from the Federal Reserve have helped boosted sentiment.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell called the economic recovery "uneven," signaling that monetary policy will remain loose until a more robust recovery is attained.

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Meanwhile, market volatility has declined as the S&P 500 kept grinding higher to refresh its record high. The Cboe Volatility Index, known as the VIX and the "fear gauge" of Wall Street, has been trading under the 20 threshold for eight sessions straight.

In corporate news, Spanish infrastructure group ACS has expressed interest in taking a surprise stake in Atlantia's motorway unit, the Italian conglomerate announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca's struggles with its Covid-19 vaccine rollout have continued to grow in recent days. Australia, the Philippines and the African Union have become the latest to limit or abandon purchases of the shot over fears about its possible link to blood clots, despite global shortages.

On the data front, German industrial output in February fell 1.6% from the previous month, the Federal Statistics Office revealed Friday, which was well below a consensus forecast of a 1.5% rise.

At the top of the Stoxx 600, German lubricant manufacturer Fuchs Petrolub gained 4.8% after Baader Bank upgraded the stock from a "sell" to a "buy."

British food delivery start-up Deliveroo, meanwhile, fell 9.8% on Friday, adding to the company's woes following its lackluster initial public offering last week

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