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European stocks push higher after wobble

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

European stocks pushed higher on Friday and the euro rebounded against the dollar after falling sharply the day before on expectations of sooner-than-expected US interest rate hikes.

London's FTSE 100 rose 0.23 percent to 6,557.17 points, the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.17 percent to 4,335.28 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 climbed 0.50 percent to 9,342.94 points.

Global markets had skidded in early trading Thursday after new Fed chief Janet Yellen said a US rate rise could come "around six months" after the bank's stimulus programme ends.

Economists took that to mean an increase in borrowing costs in the first half of 2015. They had forecast a hike in the latter part of the year.

"European markets are trading higher (Friday)... mirroring market action in the US and Asia overnight as better than expected US economic data and positive bank stress tests results managed to draw some attention away from the Crimean crisis," said Markus Huber, senior trader at Peregrine & Black.

"EU and the US placing further sanctions on Russia overnight had little to no impact on markets mainly because this was widely expected anyway and the sanctions themselves so far have been limited to individuals only.

"As there have been no general trade or energy sanctions so far there should be no negative fallout for global growth at this stage."

While there have been some daily swings since Russia began two weeks ago its effort to annex Crimea, the Paris and Frankfurt exchanges are essentially unchanged. London's FTSE has slid 2.3 percent, however.

Wall Street has also largely shrugged off the Crimea crisis, with the main indices largely unchanged over the past two weeks.

The broad-based S&P 500 has even climbed, and on Friday in midday trading it had gained 0.39 percent to 1,879.29 to put it in record territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.50 percent to 16.412.02, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.16 percent to 4,312.58.

In foreign exchange trade Friday, the euro rose to $1.3791 from $1.3778 late on Thursday in New York.

The dollar slid to 102.31 yen from 102.36.

The dollar had risen strongly after Yellen's hint about higher rates, while safe-haven gold suffered.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold climbed to $1,336 an ounce from $1,327 on Thursday.

The British pound slid to 1.1955 euros from 1.1978, and dipped to $1.6487 from $1.6506.

British state borrowing worsened in February, official data showed Friday, but the government remains on track to meet the new deficit target unveiled earlier this week.

"February's public finances figures confirm that the UK's budget deficit is continuing to make slow downward progress," said Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics.

Asian stock markets closed higher on Friday as bargain-hunters moved in after the previous session's heavy losses, with investors taking a lead from Wall Street and a positive batch of US data.

The US Labor Department released figures showing initial claims for jobless benefits were lower than expected last week, while the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's March manufacturing activity index beat forecasts.

Also, the Conference Board's leading economic index for February came in above expectations, while US existing-home sales for February met expectations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140321/european-stocks-push-higher-after-wobble