LONDON -- European equity markets have been seeing a positive session Friday, although gains have been tempered somewhat as U.S. futures hold near flat, with comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday helping sentiment on the continent. Merkel said the European Central Bank's insistence on conditionality in return for its assistance in reducing sovereign borrowing costs matches her priorities and those of Germany.
The market took these remarks as an indication that Germany agrees with the need to do "all it takes" to save the euro and those indebted countries suffering, in turn helping support European peripheral countries today. With this, the Spanish 10-year bond yield has been holding near six-week lows during the session, and the Spanish IBEX (INDEX: ^IBEX ) is by far the best-performing index, up more than 2%.
As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.
The increased confidence surrounding the European peripheries and the seeming commitment of Germans to help save the euro are, as always, helping financial stocks in the respective countries. Italian financials are seeing added benefit, with Intesa Sanpaolo (NASDAQOTH: ISNPY.PK) up 3.3% after the country's vice chairman of the banking lobby, Giovanni Berneschi, urged the government to review the Bank of Italy's equity as a way of boosting capital of private banks in the country.
The Bank of Italy is owned by domestic lenders, and Berneschi argues that if it were to raise equity, it would boost the domestic lenders' stakes in the central bank and help with their need for capital. Berneschi suggested that raising the equity through a free stock issue would allow banks to boost capital by 8 billion euros.
In Spain, meanwhile, financials and the utility majors are seeing some of the strongest performances, helped after the European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, urged the country not to impose retroactive cuts to subsidies for clean energy. The Spanish newspaper El Pais said Oettinger believes that any measures taken in the energy industry should be neutral from a technological standpoint and not create an unfavorable environment for renewables. Spanish electricity producer Iberdrola (NASDAQOTH: IBDRY.PK) is currently leading gains, up 3.5%.
Elsewhere, Finnish phone maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is once again seeing a strong performance today, up 2.7% after it announced today that it will offer two game downloads from Zynga on its cheaper mobile phones. In a move to directly compete with Android phones, Nokia will be allowing the Zynga games Draw Something and Zynga Poker as free downloads for its Asha touchscreen phone.
On a more negative note, France Telecom (NYSE: FTE ) is down almost 1% in Paris after news emerged it had submitted a bid for mobile-phone licenses in Romania. The country aims to raise about 700 million euros in revenue from extending mobile-phone licenses through 2029, with the auction itself expected to take place next month.
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