European stocks started Friday trading on a mixed note ahead of a key series of economic growth figures Britain and the United States as well as an estimate of the pace of inflation in the Eurozone.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 index, the broadest measure of share price performance, was marked 0.17% lower in the opening 45 minutes of trading as benchmarks in Britain and Germany drifted lower but notched modest gains in France and Italy.
Bank shares in the U.K. and Switzerland were the focus of the market’s early attention, with Barclays Plc (BCS) shares falling sharply as a stronger-than-expected first quarter pre-tax profit report that was offset by a rise in credit impairments.
Barclays shares fell 4% in the opening 45 minutes of trading in London to change hands at 215 pence each, wiping out the year-to-date gain compared to a 1.33% rise for the FTSE 100 and a 7.81% advance for the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index.
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Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) shares, however, rose to the highest level in more than a year after it notched its first quarterly profit since 2015 with a better-than-expected bottom line linked to aggressive cost cutting.
RBS shares gained rose more than 4% in early London trading before paring the advance to 1.4% to change hands at 256 pence each, extending its year-to-date gain to nearly 15%.
UBS AG (OUBSF) shares also traded firmly higher, rising 2.5% to Srf17.05 each in Zurich Friday after it posted a much stronger than expected set of first quarter earnings and said client inflows to its wealth management division increased by more than $5 billion.
None of the early market moves beyond the banking sector, however are expected to be significant in the final day of trading that has seen back-to-back triple digit gains for U.S. stocks and multi-month highs for both the pound and the euro against the greenback amid a host of stellar corporate earnings and a less-than-impressive tax reform proposal from U.S. President Donald Trump.[:]