EU markets close lower

Investors in European markets saw gains turn to losses on Friday, as they examined company earnings and data releases. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index finished the day down by 1%, with mining stocks and travel and leisure stocks leading the losses. All major bourses and sectors were in the red at the end of the day.

The German economy’s figures, published on Friday, showed a 0.4% contraction in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the previous flash estimate of a 0.2% decline. In February, French and German consumer confidence fell slightly, while a survey indicated that British consumers were somewhat more optimistic regarding their personal finances and the economic outlook.

Investors spent the week digesting several corporate earnings reports, as well as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, which suggested that despite signs of decreasing inflation, more interest rate hikes were necessary. Persistent inflation and tight labor markets also resulted in concerns about the continued possibility of central banks’ interest rate hikes.

Asia-Pacific markets closed mixed on Friday, with Chinese and Hong Kong indexes declining but Japan’s Nikkei 225 increasing. Incoming Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda stated during a confirmation hearing that the country’s ultra-loose monetary policy, despite side effects such as the sharp decline of the yen, was a “necessary, appropriate means to achieve 2% inflation.”

On Wall Street, stocks experienced a sharp decline after the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge revealed a stronger-than-anticipated increase in prices last month. Reuters published a poll of equity analysts on Thursday, indicating that global stock markets will remain volatile as market interest rate pricing increases.

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