Europe open: Shares higher on Fed official 'slow & steady' remarks
European shares opened higher on Friday following a late rally on Wall Street after a Federal Reserve official argued for a “slow and steady” approach to interest rate rises.
The pan-regional Stoxx 600 index was up 0.24% at 0815 GMT with all major bourses higher. Wall Street and Asia both finished with positive sessions after comments from Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic.
"Slow and steady is going to be the appropriate course of action," he said, in a case for quarter point hikes after other Fed officials suggested stiffer increases were needed after a recent run of economic data indicated inflation wasn’t falling anytime soon.
In economic news, German exports rose by more than expected in January, recording a 2.1% rise and rebounding from a sharp drop in the prior month, according to official data released on Friday.
Exports rose 2.1% due to strong demand from the US and UK, with goods sent to the US 3.1% month-on-month and while those exported to the UK increased 7.8% on the same basis.
Imports fell by 3.4% versus December and against analysts expectations of a 2% rise and as a result the foreign trade balance showed a surplus of €16.7bn in January, up from €10bn in December.
Activity in China’s services sector picked up more than expected in February amid a recovery in demand, according to a survey released on Friday.
The Caixin services purchasing managers' index rose to 55.0 from 52.9 in January. This was above consensus expectations for a reading of 54.5 and comfortably above the 50.0 mark that separates contraction from expansion.
In equity news, shares in Lufthansa gained as the German airline swung to a full-year operating profit with a strong increase in travel demand.
Educational publisher Pearson fell despite an estimates-beating rise in annual profit.
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com