In Europe. Germany's parliament approved an extension of Greece's bailout on Friday but a record number of dissenters from Angela Merkel's conservatives underscored growing scepticism in Berlin about whether a new Greek government can be trusted to deliver on its reform pledges. Euro-area authorities will use the next four months to figure out how to help Greece after June, when its current bailout extension expires, European Union Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. It’s not clear whether Greece will need a third bailout program, a credit line or some other arrangement, Moscovici said in an interview Friday with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua. He said the EU will work with Greece’s new government to make sure the voices of voters are heard.
The data released by Destatis, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, showed the economy in Q4 expanded 1.6% year-on-year, matching the estimate, and up from the previous quarter’s growth rate of 1.2%. Quarter-on-quarter growth rate came-in line with the expected print of 0.7%, compared to the previous quarter’s 0.1%. In a quarter-on-quarter comparison, positive contributions mainly came from domestic demand. External demand again grew significantly in the fourth quarter of 2014, with exports up by 1.3% compared with the third quarter. However, imports also increased by 1%, leading to a net 0.2% points addition to GDP. Meanwhile, employment rose by 412,000 persons or 1.0% on a year earlier.
European stocks were wavering on Friday, retreating from a seven-year high, but managing to remain on course to log a monthly advance. The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, 0.12% edged up less than 1 point to 390.79. The benchmark on Thursday climbed 1% to mark its best finish since June 2007, according to FactSet data. For February, the pan-European index looks set to rise 6.5%, which would follow a 7.2% jump in January. The February rise has been aided by strength in German equities, with the DAX 30 DAX, 0.03% marking its 18th record closing high of 2015 during the month. As well, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, 0.03% earlier this week logged its best closing level since December 1999.
In U.S.A. U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter amid a slow pace of stock accumulation by businesses and a wider trade deficit, but the underlying fundamentals remained solid. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual pace, revised down from the 2.6 percent pace estimated last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The economy grew at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter. With consumer spending accelerating at its quickest pace since the first quarter of 2006 and sturdy gains in other measures of domestic demand, the slowdown in growth is likely to be temporary. Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, was revised down by one-tenth of a percentage point to a 4.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter, still the fastest since the first quarter of 2006. A tightening labor market and lower gasoline prices are likely to keep supporting domestic demand and help the economy navigate a turbulent global economy. Business spending on equipment was revised to show it rising at a 0.9 percent rate instead of the previously reported 1.9 percent contraction. A first-quarter acceleration is now in the cards, with data on Thursday showing a rebound in business spending intentions in January after four straight months of declines. Growth in final sales to domestic purchasers, a key measure of domestic demand, was revised to a 3.2 percent pace from the previous 2.8 percent rate. The fourth-quarter growth revision was generally in line with expectations.
Consumer confidence cooled in February from an 11-year high, reflecting recent gains in fuel costs and bad winter weather in parts of the U.S. The University of Michigan final index of sentiment fell to 95.4, the first decrease in seven months, from January’s 98.1 that was the highest since the start of 2004. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of 58 economists called for 94 after a preliminary reading of 93.6.
More Americans signed contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes in January, rounding out a week of housing data that depicted an uneven recovery. The index of pending sales climbed 1.7 percent after a 1.5 percent drop the prior month that was smaller than initially estimated, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Friday in Washington.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer decreased to 45.8 in January from 59.4 the prior month, according to a report on Friday. Readings greater than 50 signal growth.
In Asia. Japanese government data on Friday showed soft consumption readings coinciding with a surge in factory output, underscoring the unevenness of the Japanese recovery and posing a headache for the Bank of Japan, which hopes its aggressive asset buying will drive up inflation and prompt households to spend more. If the effect of last year’s tax increase is stripped away, the core consumer price index — which excludes the volatile prices of food but includes oil costs — rose just 0.2 percent in January, compared with the same month last year — less than expected and slowing from 0.5 percent in December. Also in January, Japanese households cut spending more than expected and retail sales fell for the first time in seven months. Household spending fell a more-than-expected 5.1 percent, compared with the same month last year. It was the 10th consecutive month of declines in spending, the longest losing streak since the global financial crisis in 2009. Retail sales dropped a worse-than-expected 2 percent.
On the Commodities markets . Gold futures edged higher on Friday, but were still set to post their biggest monthly loss since September. Traders continued to monitor the direction of the dollar, mulled the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike and digested the latest spate of U.S. economic data in their quest to gauge the metal’s appeal. Gold for April delivery GCJ5, 0.47% tacked on $4, or 0.3%, to $1,214.10 an ounce on Comex. Based on the most-active contracts, prices traded about 5.1% lower for the month. The monthly loss would come on the heels of January’s 8% rally, which was the largest monthly gain in 3 years. For the week, prices were up 0.8%.
May silver SIK5, 0.07% traded at $16.585 an ounce, down 4 cents, or 0.2%. It was down around 3.7% for the month but up roughly 1.9% for the week.
NZD was the strongest currency against USD, appreciated by 0.72% on Friday (weekly basis), while NZDUSD traded around 0.7560 area. CHF was the weakest currency against greenbacks, depreciated by -1.79% and USDCHF rallied to 0.9540 area.