Friday, 24 February 2012 14:50
LONDON: European shares rose on Friday and the euro hit fresh highs against the dollar as investors focused on bright spots in the global growth outlook, but unease about soaring oil prices and implementation of Greece's rescue deal tempered risk appetite.
A day after hitting a record high in euro terms, Brent crude jumped above $124, raising worries a run of sharp price gains could stymie the euro zone's growth prospects, making it harder for governments to meet budget targets and pull the currency bloc out of its debt crisis.
Brent has risen more than 11 percent so far this month, on worries over Iranian supply in particular, and reached a high of $124.28 on Friday.
"There's still a risk premium to be built in oil prices because of Iran," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of BarrattBulletin, a Sydney-based commodity research firm.
Data on Friday confirmed that Germany's economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter on sagging exports and private consumption, but investors were optimistic that Europe's biggest economy will avoid falling into recession after a report on Thursday showed business sentiment was improving.
The euro hit it a 10-week high at $1.3393 on trading platform EBS, after rallying 1 percent on Thursday following the German business sentiment data.
Investors were also gearing up for a second three-year financing operation by the European Central Bank next week, which is expected to inject nearly half a trillion euros into banks and ease concerns about bank funding.
The pan-European FTS Eurofirst 300 index of top shares was up 0.12 percent at 1,076.6 by 0906 GMT.
Banking stocks, however, pared early gains and Lloyds, Britain's biggest retail bank, tumbled more than 3 percent after it posted a 3.5 billion pound loss for 2011 and warned of lower revenues this year.
Copyright Reuters, 2012