European Markets Edge Up Despite Mixed Corporate Earnings

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By Geetha Pillai | February 13, 2013 7:12 PM EST

The German share price index DAX board is pictured at the German stock exchange in Frankfurt.

European markets edged up in the opening minutes of trade though investors preferred to remain on the sidelines on the back of mixed earnings from blue-chip companies such as Societe Generale and Nordic mobile phone firm Telenor.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.1 percent to 1,162.2. The UK's FTSE 100 slid 0.2 percent while Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent. France's CAC-40 gained 0.1 percent.

Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's Ibex were up 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.

France's largest bank Societe Generale posted a fourth-quarter loss of €476m ($641m, £409m) as against a €100m profit for the same period a year earlier. Telenor also missed analysts' expectations due to an unexpected impairment charge on its Danish operations but posted a fourth-quarter profit of 3.19 billion kroner ($582m).

Other major data that nvestors will be looking for today include eurozone industrial output for December and US retail sales for January. 

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that he would start talks on a potential free-trade deal with the European Union to improve trade links between the two economic regions. He also urged the Republican lawmakers to end "manufactured" crises over the federal budget deficit.

Obama proposed a hike in the minimum wage to $9 an hour from the existing $7.25 rate, and also announced billions of dollars of investment in the infrastructure sector to create jobs and boost growth in the economy. 

Earlier, most Asian bourses closed in the positive while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 1 percent and ended at 11,251.4 as exporters turned to profit-taking on the back of a strong yen.

The Japanese currency gained against all 16 major peers following comments from a G7 official that the group was concerned about excessive movements in the yen.

Australian shares surged on the back of strong corporate profits and solid consumer confidence figures. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.9 percent and closed above the 5,000 mark for the first time since 2010.

Exporters gained in South Korea, lifting the KOSPI 1.6 percent, while Singapore's Straits Times gained 0.9 percent. Equity markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam remain shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Major Movers in Asia

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the nation's largest lender and pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd led the rally in Australia with strong corporate earnings results.

CBA surged 2.4 percent after it reported a 6 percent rise in adjusted profits for the first half. CSL rose 1.1 percent as it reported a 24 percent increase in first-half profit.

In Japan, Toyota slid 1.8 percent as the yen strengthened against its peers and shares of Olympus dropped 2.7 percent after the technology firm trimmed down its full-year forecast due to weak camera sales.  

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