European stocks fall on GDP data but tech earnings lift Wall Street

© Agence France-Presse

Apple and other tech giants reported blowout earnings, boosting US stocks on a day when European markets retreated

New York (AFP) - European stocks fell Friday following dismal economic data that chronicled the hit from coronavirus shutdowns, while Wall Street indices gained following blowout earnings from tech giants.

A day after the US reported an historically bad plunge in second-quarter growth, European authorities released the tally for the bloc and for individual countries. 

"It was a grim day at the office for the global economy... as the extent of the COVID-19 damage was laid bare," said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.

France's economy contracted by a record 13.8 percent in the second quarter, Spain slumped 18.5 percent, Portugal contracted 14.1 percent and Italy shrank 12.4 percent.

Europe as a whole was hammered by its sharpest recorded contraction in the second quarter, with GDP down 12.1 percent in the eurozone and 11.9 percent across the full EU.

The official Eurostat agency said that, with much of the economy paralysed by coronavirus lockdowns, the fall was "by far" the largest since it began recording the figure in 1995.

"It is a shocking drop, but completely understandable as the economy was shut for a considerable period during the quarter," said Bert Colijn, senior economist at ING Bank.

European bourses retreated, along with Japan's Nikkei, which was under pressure because of increased coronavirus cases in Japan and a strengthening yen.

But Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session higher after tech giants Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Facebook reported strong earnings, validating surging valuations built on expectations the sector would be a big winner amid the pandemic upheaval.

Apple surged 10.5 percent and Facebook won 8.2 percent, both all-time highs. Amazon also climbed, while Google parent Alphabet ended lower.

Broad investor sentiment has been weighed down by worries over the state of negotiations over a follow-up to the CARES Act stimulus measure passed by Congress in March. 

Supplemental unemployment benefits paid for by the measure that have been credited with boosting consumption amid soaring joblessness are set to expire Friday.

"We were spoiled in the first round of fiscal policy stimulus, which happened in a bipartisan fashion and fast," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

"Now that we're coming back for an additional round, Washington politics as usual is taking hold," Hogan said. "Both sides are arguing over things that they want, included in the next round. Neither side wants to give much."

Key figures around 2030 GMT

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 26,428.32 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.8 percent at 3,271.12 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.5 percent at 10,745.27 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5 percent at 5,897.76 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 12,313.36 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.4 percent at 4,783.69 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.1 percent at 3,174.32 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.8 percent at 21,710.00 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 24,595.35 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,310.01 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1775 from $1.1847 at 2100 GMT 

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.88 yen from 104.73 yen 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3072 from $1.3096 

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.07 pence from 90.46 

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $40.27 per barrel 

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $43.80 per barrel