European equity markets ended the week fairly mixed as renewed tensions in Ukraine cause a high level of uncertainty in the equity and commodity markets, overshadowing the optimistic US employment data. The CAC and DAX retreated more than 0.5%, while the London benchmark index edged higher, adding 0.2% in today’s session.
On the macroeconomic front, the monthly non-farm payrolls report showed the US economy added 288,000 jobs in April, beating analysts’ estimates of a 210,000 rise. Private payrolls also increased by 273,000 and the US unemployment rate declined sharply to 6.3% in April compared to 6.7% in March, verifying strong employment conditions.
Banks and insurance companies posted fresh gains on Friday, as RBS led the uptrend in the UK banking sector after reporting strong corporate earnings results that beat analysts’ expectations. Barclays and Lloyds also tracked the uptrend, gaining 0.92% and 0.15%, respectively in today’s trading session.
In other news, AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer’s raised bid of $106 billion. Glaxosmithkline retreated by 0.6%, while AstraZeneca gave back part of the recent strong gains and slid slightly lower by 0.15% on the news.
Crude oil and precious metals prices rallied strongly following the political uncertainty in Ukraine. Gold spiked above the $1300 key level, while silver climbed more than 2.8% toward $19.60. Brent front month futures surged towards $109 per barrel and the WTI front month contract retested the $100 level amid concerns about oil supplies from Russia and Ukraine.