• The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.1% during afternoon trading, with the health care sector leading gains, up more than 1%.
  • Shares in U.K. bank Barclays dropped almost 6%, despite its first-quarter results which topped expectations.

European stocks edged higher on Friday afternoon, shortly after data showed a contraction in euro zone economic growth in the first quarter.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.1% during afternoon trading, with the health care sector leading gains, up more than 1%.

The euro zone’s gross domestic product fell 0.6% in the first quarter, according to preliminary data released by Europe’s statistics office Eurostat on Friday morning. It means that the bloc suffered a second technical recession in just over a year, although economists are hopeful of an economic recovery in the coming months.

Shares in U.K. bank Barclays dropped almost 7%, despite its first-quarter results which topped expectations. Barclays reported a net profit of £1.7 billion ($2.37 billion) for the first three months of the year, above the £1.3 billion expected by analysts.

French bank BNP Paribas fell by nearly 2%, despite beating forecasts in its first-quarter results. It posted a net income of 1.8 billion euros versus the 1.2 billion euros estimated by analysts.

However, British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca climbed over 5% in afternoon trading, after it said on Friday its coronavirus vaccine added $275 million in sales in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said in a statement released Friday that technology giant Apple’s App Store had breached competition rules. This followed a complaint made by music streaming service Spotify in 2019 about Apple’s license agreements.

Apple said the EU’s case was the “opposite of fair competition.”

Stateside, major indexes fell on Friday, despite e-commerce giant Amazon reporting a record first-quarter profit. However, social media platform Twitter missed analyst forecasts on user growth expectations and shared lower-than-expected revenue guidance for the second quarter.

U.S. personal incomes and spending in March rose 21.1% and 4.2%, respectively, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday.

Asia-Pacific markets struggled for gains Friday, despite a positive finish stateside to Thursday’s trading session.


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