Investing.com - European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Friday, as investors digested a week of corporate earnings, important central bank decisions and economic data.
Earnings season continues
European stocks have begun handing back some of Thursday's healthy gains, although strong earnings from pharma giant AstraZeneca (LON: AZN ) have supported the U.K. market on Friday
AstraZeneca stock rose 3.5% after the drugmaker delivered better-than-expected profits and sales in the second quarter as a strong performance of its blockbuster cancer drugs helped offset the loss of COVID-19 vaccine sales. The company also announced its unit Alexion (NASDAQ: ALXN ) has agreed to buy Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE ) early-stage rare disease gene therapy portfolio for up to $1 billion.
Elsewhere, Sanofi SA (EPA: SASY ) stock fell 2.4% despite the French drugmaker increasing its guidance for full-year earnings, Vinci (EPA: SGEF ) stock rose 0.3% after the French concessions and construction group reported a jump in its half-year core profit, and Amundi (EPA: AMUN ) stock rose 0.6% after Europe's biggest fund manager posted better-than-expected quarterly net inflows.
Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant (SIX: CLN ) impressed with its second-quarter core profit, helped by price hikes in catalysts as well as adsorbents and additives businesses.
ECB hints at September pause
Sentiment was boosted on Thursday in the wake of the European Central Bank's latest policy-setting meeting, which saw the central bank raising interest rates by 25 basis points to a 23-year high on Thursday.
However, President Christine Lagarde surprised the market by hinting that this tightening run, which currently consists of nine consecutive rate hikes, could soon be coming to an end.
"Do we have more ground to cover? At this point in time I wouldn't say so," Lagarde said during the press conference that followed the most recent rate increase, while stressing that the ECB's decisions would depend on incoming data.
This followed the Federal Reserve also raising interest rates on Wednesday, while the Bank of Japan surprised by shifting the boundaries of its yield curve control policy, potentially a slight tightening of its very loose monetary policy.
European inflation data in focus
Data released earlier Friday showed that inflation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia , the country’s most populous state, rose 0.2% on the month in July, an annual rise of 5.8%, below the 6.2% expected.
Additionally, French annual inflation came in at 4.3% in July, a drop from the previous month’s 4.5%, and while the Spanish equivalent climbed to an annual 2.3%, this is still well below most of the other countries in the eurozone.
French gross domestic product also climbed 0.5% in the second quarter, an improvement from the revised 0.1% growth in the previous quarter, and also better than expected.
Oil prices near three-month highs
Oil prices edged higher Friday, on course for another positive week after the release of data showing that the U.S. economy grew more than expected in the second quarter, driving down fears of a recession that could potentially dent oil demand this year.
The data also came amid increasing signs of tightness in the oil market, as the effects of production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia began to be felt.
Both contracts were set to add between 2.5% and 3.5% this week, their fifth straight positive week, having climbed to three-month highs during the previous session.
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