European equities close higher, Stoxx Europe 600 and DAX hit new highs


China's GDP in the first quarter of 2021 grew at a record 18.3% year-on-year amid increased domestic and global demand, tight control over the spread of the coronavirus, and economic support measures, according to data from the State Statistical Office of the PRC.

Retail sales in China soared 34.2% in March, exceeding analysts' expectations of a 28% rise. The increase in retail sales was noted for the eighth consecutive month and is the most significant since January 1995.

As the US Department of Labor reported on the eve, the number of new applications for unemployment benefits in the country last week decreased by 193 thousand, to 576 thousand, which is the lowest since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

US retail sales rose 9.8% in March, the fastest pace since May last year.

According to the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the number of new cars registered in the EU last month (excluding Malta, statistics for which are not available) increased by 87.3% in annual terms, amounting to 1 million 62,446 thousand compared with 567,253 thousand in March 2020. In the first quarter, total vehicle sales in the EU increased by 3.2% to 2,560.33 thousand.

The composite index of the largest enterprises in the region Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.9% to a record 442.49 points. A day earlier, the indicator also renewed its all-time high. At the end of the week, it climbed 1.1%, showing growth for the seventh straight week. This is the index's longest rise since May 2018.

Germany's DAX added 1.34%, also ending at a record high.

The British FTSE 100 index rose 0.52%, the French CAC 40 rose 0.22%. Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's IBEX 35 added 0.88% and 0.49%, respectively.

Daimler AG shares rose 2.7% on Friday. The German automaker said its financial results for the first quarter of 2021 significantly exceeded market expectations due to strong demand for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, especially in China.

HelloFresh SE rose 3.3%. The German company, which delivers food recipe kits to customers, has improved its revenue forecast for 2021, expecting strong first-quarter performance.

German HeidelbergCement added 1.9%. One of the world's largest cement producers saw earnings and revenues higher in the first quarter, ahead of market forecasts, according to preliminary data.

Volkswagen AG shares gained 3.5%. The automaker increased car sales worldwide in the first quarter by 21% over the same period last year.

France's L'Oreal SA was down 1.8%, although the French cosmetics maker reported a 10.2% rise in first-quarter comparable sales.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company -