European markets tumbled in and out of the green on Friday as slew of inconsistent GDP readings out of the eurozone to dampened some of the bullish sentiment.
Stocks opened mostly higher after the bell, temporarily dipped into the red after the data was released, and then recovered slightly in the afternoon.
New figures from Eurostat revealed that output in the 19-nation euro area shrank by 0.6% during the first quarter of the year. This is its second consecutive quarter of negative growth after a 0.7% contraction in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The fall was driven by contractions in three of the eurozone’s largest economies – Germany shrank by an unexpected 1.7%, Spain contracted 0.5% and Italy’s GDP fell 0.4%.
“Put simply, the EU is dragging its feet when it comes to its economic recovery. However, speed aside, it is moving in the right direction – particularly as the vaccine roll out gathers pace,” Robert Alster, CIO at wealth manager Close Brothers Asset Management, said.
“The summer months are crucial for southern Europe’s road to recovery, with countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece heavily reliant on tourism. Hospitality businesses in particular will be banking on some sort of rebound, if not we could see a late summer of discontent aimed at Brussels.”
It also came as house prices in the UK jumped at the fastest pace in 17 years.
According to mortgage lender Nationwide, house prices jumped by 2.1% in April alone on the back of the extension of the stamp duty holiday. It was the biggest monthly increase since 2004.
Average UK house prices rose to a new record of £238,831, from £232,134 in March.
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It came after the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high on Thursday while the Nasdaq Composite hit an intraday record before paring some gains.
On Friday it was also revealed that US personal incomes soared last month, by the most in monthly records back to 1946.
Data showed that personal incomes increased by 21.1% in March, boosted by fiscal stimulus.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said: "The increase in personal income in March largely reflected an increase in government social benefits. Within government social benefits, “other” social benefits increased.
"The American Rescue Plan Act established an additional round of direct economic impact payments to households."
Asian shares slipped overnight after global stocks held near record highs on Thursday thanks to strong US economic data and the Federal Reserve's commitment to continue supporting the economy.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell into the red with both Japan and China falling ahead of a long weekend. Both markets will be closed through to Wednesday.
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