Rome

European markets end challenging week on positive note

Milan bourse up 6.34%, spread narrows to 460 points

European markets end challenging week on positive note

(ANSA) - Rome, August 3 - European financial markets ended the week on a high note with Milan's stock exchange a leader on Friday, gaining 6.34% to reach 14,124 points. Markets shook off their earlier disappointment when the European Central Bank failed Thursday to take anticipated action. They took some comfort instead from ECB President Mario Draghi's suggestion that future purchases by the central bank to tackle the eurozone's sovereign-debt crisis would focus on short-dated debt. That indication of ECB action on developing a new policy road map proved positive on Friday for Italy and Spain's short-term debt. The closely watch spread between Italy's 10-year BTPs and the benchmark German Bund ended the week at 460 basis points, with a yield of 6.017%. Demand for troubled Spanish debt also helped to push down the spread with German bonds to 535 basis points and lowered the yield on Spanish paper below the psychological threshold of 7%, to close the week at 6.7%. The spread helps to indicate investor confidence in troubled economies such as Italy and Spain, when compared with Germany, a current investment magnet. Market disappointment in the ECB had driven the Milan market to close down 4.64% on Thursday, while the spread between Italian and German benchmarks had jumped more than 60 points to close at almost 506. Markets also rallied on a series of good news reports Friday: Italy's economic growth package was approved by parliament; the US jobs report was stronger than many expected; and eurozone retail-sales volumes rose 0.1% month-over-month in June - exceeding analysts' expectations of a 0.1% drop. Meanwhile, Madrid's main index rose 5.58% Friday to close at 6,729 points while London's FTSE 100 was more cautious, gaining 2.21% to close trading at 5,787 points. Paris gained 4.38% to close at 3,374 points and Frankfurt's Dax rose 3.93% to close at 6,865 points.

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