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European Stocks Higher; Strong Daimler Earnings Help

European stock markets traded higher Friday, helped by strong earnings from German auto giant Daimler (OTC:DDAIF) as well as rising sentiment over a global economic recovery.

At 3:45 AM ET (0845 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.5% higher, climbing to a record high, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.2%, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5%, climbing to a new 52-week high, while the blue chip Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.3% to an all-time high.

Stock markets around the globe, with Europe being no exception, have climbed to record levels of late on expectations that the global vaccination program coupled with hefty stimulus packages, especially in the U.S., will unleash pent up demand.

Evidence of this emerged in the U.S. Thursday, as retail sales surged 9.8% in March, easily outstripping consensus expectations. This was backed up earlier Friday as China's economy posted growth of over 18% on the year, although the quarterly growth dynamic slowed modestly.

Adding to the enthusiasm Friday has been strong corporate news in Europe, led by the auto sector.

Daimler (DE:DAIGn) stock gained 2.1% as the German car and truck maker reported higher vehicle prices and solid demand in China, helped by a strong performance from its Mercedes Benz cars, resulting in a surge in quarterly operating profit.

European car registrations jumped in March, rising over 63% year-on-year, industry data showed on Friday, as the sector recovered from the damage a year ago when coronavirus lockdowns devastated sales. EU sales, which exclude the U.K., rose an even stronger 87%.

Elsewhere, HelloFresh (DE:HFGG) stock rose 4.8% after the meal kit delivery company announced strong first-quarter preliminary results and lifted its 2021 outlook, as customers cooked more at home during the pandemic.

On the flip side, L’Oreal (PA:OREP) stock fell 1.6% despite the French cosmetics group posting a further pickup in sales in the first quarter. The luxury sector has posted strong gains of late amid expectations customers will return with a bang as the global economy reopens.

On the economic data slate, final euro area inflation figures for March are due later in the session, but are unlikely to have an immediate impact on the thinking at the European Central Bank given their current subdued level.

Oil prices climbed to one-month highs Friday, helped by an improved oil demand outlook on the back of strong economic recoveries in China and the United States, the two largest consumers of oil in the world.

Both the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency have this week upgraded their forecasts for world oil demand growth this year.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% higher at $63.70 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.4% to $67.22, both contracts on course for around 7% gains this week.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,762.45/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1974.

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