MARKET REVIEW

CFTC Commitments of Traders - Gold Net Longs at 5-Month High

Investing.com - The Commodity Futures Trading Commission released its weekly Commitments of Traders report for the week ending April 18 on Friday.


Speculative positioning in the CME and ICE currency, commodity, energy and index futures:

LongShort
NetPriorChangeGrossChangeGrossChange
EUR-21.6k-19.0k-2.7k185.8k12.2k207.4k14.9k
GBP-99.5k-105.9k6.4k48.3k16.5k147.8k10.1k
JPY-30.5k-34.8k4.3k45.8k2.4k76.2k-1.9k
CHF-13.8k-10.1k-3.7k10.8k-2.3k24.6k1.4k
CAD-33.3k-32.3k-0.9k37.3k5.9k70.6k6.8k
AUD43.3k45.2k-1.9k70.4k-6.4k27.1k-4.5k
NZD-15.0k-15.2k0.1k18.3k-0.7k33.3k-0.8k
MXN14.2k-12.7k26.9k97.0k10.2k82.8k-16.7k
S&P 500134.2k121.0k13.3k575.6k16.0k441.3k2.7k
Gold195.8k172.7k23.1k279.3k26.3k83.5k3.2k
Silver103.9k105.5k-1.6k128.4k-3.6k24.5k-2.0k
Copper16.0k25.8k-9.8k106.3k-7.9k90.2k1.9k
RUB19.7k20.1k-0.4k27.0k-0.2k7.4k0.2k
Crude Oil443.9k437.0k6.8k637.9k-8.1k194.0k-14.9k


Peru stocks lower at close of trade; S&P Lima General down 0.25%

Investing.com – Peru stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the S&P Lima Juniors, Banking&Financials and Non-Metal Minerals sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Lima, the S&P Lima General lost 0.25%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P Lima General were PPX Mining Corp (LM:PPX), which unchanged 4.17% or 0.00 points to trade at 0.05 at the close. Meanwhile, Atacocha (LM:ATB) added 3.33% or 0.010 points to end at 0.310 and Cerro Verde (LM:CVE) was up 2.33% or 0.480 points to 21.080 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Empresa Agroindustrial Pomalca (LM:POM), which fell 6.25% or 0.010 points to trade at 0.150 at the close. Panoro (LM:PML) declined 5.38% or 0.007 points to end at 0.123 and Grana Y Monter (LM:GRA) was down 3.53% or 0.090 points to 2.460.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Lima Stock Exchange by 9 to 8 and 17 ended unchanged.

Shares in Empresa Agroindustrial Pomalca (LM:POM) fell to 52-week lows; down 6.25% or 0.010 to 0.150.

Crude oil for June delivery was down 2.17% or 1.10 to $49.61 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in June fell 1.96% or 1.04 to hit $51.95 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.13% or 1.70 to trade at $1285.50 a troy ounce.

USD/PEN was down 0.06% to 3.2426, while EUR/PEN fell 0.52% to 3.4674.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.05% at 99.66.

Top 5 things that moved markets this past week

Investing.com – Take a peek at the top 5 things that rocked U.S. markets this week.

US stocks posted weekly gains

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended the week in positive territory, despite a week of mixed corporate earnings results.

Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) sank more than 5% on Tuesday, after the investment bank reported first-quarter earnings that missed on the top and bottom lines.

President Trump talked up tax reform plan

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday, he will unveil a tax plan next week that includes a “massive tax cut” for individuals and businesses.

President Trump appeared reluctant to elaborate on the plan but insisted that the tax cuts will be “bigger I believe than any tax cut ever” and said the tax reform packaged would be unveiled on “Wednesday [April 26] or shortly thereafter”.

Gold snapped a five-week win streak

Gold prices snapped a five-week win streak, despite uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the French presidential election, scheduled for Sunday, April 23.

According to polls of voting intentions, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron would garner 23% of the vote while Marine Le pen would garner 22%.

Oil prices slid more than 6% for the week

Crude futures recorded a 6% loss for the week, as fears that rising levels of U.S. oil production would weigh on OPEC’s efforts to rein in supply resumed this week, after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a bearish outlook on U.S. production.

The EIA’s monthly Drilling Productivity report showed U.S. shale production was set to rise to 5.19 million barrels a day in May.

Sterling rose to six-month against the dollar

GBP/USD hit a six-month high on Wednesday, buoyed by expectations that UK Prime Minister would comfortably increase her parliamentary majority in the general election, after the British Parliament approved May’s call for an early election.

US stocks close lower but Nasdaq posts weekly gains

Investing.com – U.S. stocks closed lower on Friday, despite the release of bullish economic data and an update from President Donald Trump on his tax reform plan.

All three major U.S. indexes ended the session in negative territory but attempted to pare losses, after Donald Trump said Friday, he will unveil a tax plan next week that includes a “massive tax cut” for individuals and businesses.

In an interview with The Associated Press, President Trump stopped short of providing a detailed outlined of the plan but insisted that the tax cuts will be “bigger I believe than any tax cut ever” and said the tax reform packaged will be released on “Wednesday [April 26] or shortly thereafter”.

Meanwhile, a bullish report from the National Association of Realtors showed sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. hit a ten-year high in March.

Existing home sales rose 4.4% in March from the previous month to an annualised pace of 5.71m units, which confounded economists’ estimates of a 2.5% gain. The National Association of Realtors said on Friday.

The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the French Presidential election offset bullish economic data, after opinion polls indicated centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron holds a slender lead over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

In corporate news, Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) failed to secure a waiver that would allow it to drill in parts of Russia currently blocked by U.S. sanctions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.15% lower at 20,547. The S&P 500 dipped 0.30% and the Nasdaq Composite traded 0.11% lower at 5910.52.

S&P 500 ‘movers and shakers’

The top S&P 500 gainers included; Rockwell Collins Inc (NYSE:COL) up 5.1%, and Stanley Black & Decker Inc (NYSE:SWK) up 3.7%, while Robert Half International Inc (NYSE:RHI) added 2.8%.

Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:MAT) down 13.6%, Interpublic Group of Companies Inc (NYSE:IPG) down 3.2% and PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH) down 3.1%, were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

U.S. stocks lower at close of trade; Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.15%

Investing.com – U.S. stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Telecoms, Financials and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.15%, while the S&P 500 index declined 0.30%, and the NASDAQ Composite index fell 0.11%.

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which rose 1.40% or 0.92 points to trade at 66.42 at the close. Meanwhile, United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) added 0.92% or 1.05 points to end at 114.99 and Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) was up 0.86% or 1.28 points to 150.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), which fell 2.40% or 1.16 points to trade at 47.25 at the close. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) declined 2.38% or 0.72 points to end at 29.55 and JPMorgan Chase&Co (NYSE:JPM) was down 1.20% or 1.03 points to 84.52.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Rockwell Collins Inc (NYSE:COL) which rose 5.13% to 104.70, Stanley Black&Decker Inc (NYSE:SWK) which was up 3.65% to settle at 137.56 and Robert Half International Inc (NYSE:RHI) which gained 2.77% to close at 47.18.

The worst performers were Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:MAT) which was down 13.57% to 21.79 in late trade, Under Armour Inc C (NYSE:UA) which lost 3.20% to settle at 17.530 and Mallinckrodt (NYSE:MNK) which was down 3.14% to 43.52 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Akari Therapeutics PLC (NASDAQ:AKTX) which rose 25.23% to 20.500, Carver Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:CARV) which was up 22.81% to settle at 4.900 and Globus Maritime Ltd (NASDAQ:GLBS) which gained 21.90% to close at 2.9500.

The worst performers were XBiotech Inc (NASDAQ:XBIT) which was down 39.89% to 10.23 in late trade, Aevi Genomic Medicine Inc (NASDAQ:GNMX) which lost 17.20% to settle at 1.540 and Onconova Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ONTX) which was down 14.92% to 2.1100 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 1739 to 1458 and 48 ended unchanged; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1432 fell and 1054 advanced, while 135 ended unchanged.

Shares in Rockwell Collins Inc (NYSE:COL) rose to all time highs; gaining 5.13% or 5.11 to 104.70. Shares in Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:MAT) fell to 52-week lows; losing 13.57% or 3.42 to 21.79. Shares in Stanley Black&Decker Inc (NYSE:SWK) rose to all time highs; gaining 3.65% or 4.85 to 137.56. Shares in Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) rose to all time highs; up 1.40% or 0.92 to 66.42. Shares in United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) rose to 52-week highs; rising 0.92% or 1.05 to 114.99. Shares in Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) rose to all time highs; gaining 0.86% or 1.28 to 150.00. Shares in Akari Therapeutics PLC (NASDAQ:AKTX) rose to 52-week highs; rising 25.23% or 4.130 to 20.500. Shares in Aevi Genomic Medicine Inc (NASDAQ:GNMX) fell to all time lows; losing 17.20% or 0.320 to 1.540. Shares in Onconova Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ONTX) fell to all time lows; falling 14.92% or 0.3700 to 2.1100.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was up 4.10% to 14.73.

Gold Futures for June delivery was up 0.21% or 2.70 to $1286.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June fell 2.21% or 1.12 to hit $49.59 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract fell 2.00% or 1.06 to trade at $51.93 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.08% to 1.0708, while USD/JPY fell 0.16% to 109.14.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.07% at 99.78.

Nigeria stocks lower at close of trade; NSE 30 down 0.48%

Investing.com – Nigeria stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Food, Beverages&Tobacco, Banking and Oil&Gas sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Lagos, the NSE 30 fell 0.48%.

The best performers of the session on the NSE 30 were Unilever Nig (LAGOS:UNILEVE), which rose 7.09% or 2.35 points to trade at 32.78 at the close. Meanwhile, Dangsugar (LAGOS:DANGSUG) unchanged 0.00% or 0.00 points to end at 6.09 and Stanbicibtc Hl (LAGOS:IBTC) was unchanged 0.00% or 0.00 points to 20.47 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Fbn Holdings (LAGOS:FBNH), which fell 5.54% or 0.200 points to trade at 3.410 at the close. Union Bank LG (LAGOS:UBN) declined 5.00% or 0.25 points to end at 4.79 and Nig Brew (LAGOS:NB) was down 3.14% or 3.89 points to 123.50.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Lagos by 18 to 15 and 73 ended unchanged.

Shares in Stanbicibtc Hl (LAGOS:IBTC) unchanged to 52-week highs; unchanged 0.00% or 0.00 to 20.47.

Crude oil for June delivery was down 2.70% or 1.37 to $49.34 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in June fell 2.42% or 1.28 to hit $51.71 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.33% or 4.20 to trade at $1288.00 a troy ounce.

EUR/NGN was down 0.58% to 336.810, while USD/NGN unchanged 0.00% to 317.500.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 99.83.

Dollar advances but remains on track to post weekly loss

Investing.com - The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies on Friday, buoyed by the release of bullish housing data while the euro dipped ahead of the first round of the French presidential election.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, rose by 0.15% to 99.85 by 18:01 EDT.

The dollar remained on track to post its second consecutive week of losses, despite data showing sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. hit a ten-year high in March.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday, existing home sales rose 4.4% in March from the previous month to an annualised pace of 5.71m units, which confounded economists’ estimates of a 2.5% gain.

EUR/USD traded at $1.0688, down 0.27%, while EUR/GBP dipped 0.11% to 0.8357, as the upcoming French presidential election overshadowed better than expected data French manufacturing data.

Investors grew concerned about the possibility of strong results for Marine Le pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon at the first round of French presidential election, scheduled for Sunday, April 23.

According to Opinion-Orpi’s daily poll of voting intentions, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron remained a strong favourite to emerge victorious from the first-round of votes - market probabilities predict that Mr Macron would garner 23% of the vote.

Meanwhile, GBP/USD slipped 0.13% to $1.2795, after bearish retail sales data weighed on upside momentum.

USD/JPY traded at 108.99, up 0.31%, while USD/CAD rose by 0.30% to $1.3512.

Denmark stocks lower at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 down 0.82%

Investing.com – Denmark stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Chemicals, Oil&Gas and Personal&Household Goods sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 fell 0.82%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CO:CHRH), which rose 0.87% or 3.9 points to trade at 451.5 at the close. Meanwhile, Nets A/S (CO:NETS) added 0.51% or 0.60 points to end at 117.90 and Carlsberg A/S B (CO:CARLb) was unchanged 0.00% or 0.0 points to 663.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Pandora A/S (CO:PNDORA), which fell 1.68% or 12.0 points to trade at 702.0 at the close. William Demant Holding AS (CO:WDH) declined 1.56% or 2.4 points to end at 151.8 and Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CO:VWS) was down 1.38% or 8.0 points to 571.0.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 81 to 38 and 18 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for June delivery was down 2.78% or 1.41 to $49.30 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in June fell 2.49% or 1.32 to hit $51.67 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.29% or 3.70 to trade at $1287.50 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was up 0.29% to 6.9599, while EUR/DKK fell 0.01% to 7.4366.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.20% at 99.91.

France stocks lower at close of trade; CAC 40 down 0.37%

Investing.com – France stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Oil&Gas, Healthcare and Technology sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Paris, the CAC 40 lost 0.37%, while the SBF 120 index lost 0.38%.

The best performers of the session on the CAC 40 were Veolia Environnement VE SA (PA:VIE), which rose 2.91% or 0.500 points to trade at 17.655 at the close. Meanwhile, Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin SCA (PA:MICP) added 2.52% or 2.85 points to end at 116.10 and BNP Paribas SA (PA:BNPP) was up 2.23% or 1.35 points to 62.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Danone SA (PA:DANO), which fell 2.45% or 1.56 points to trade at 62.15 at the close. Atos SE (PA:ATOS) declined 2.19% or 2.55 points to end at 114.05 and TechnipFMC PLC (PA:FTI) was down 2.11% or 0.64 points to 29.48.

The top performers on the SBF 120 were Veolia Environnement VE SA (PA:VIE) which rose 2.91% to 17.655, Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin SCA (PA:MICP) which was up 2.52% to settle at 116.10 and BNP Paribas SA (PA:BNPP) which gained 2.23% to close at 62.00.

The worst performers were Soitec SA (PA:SOIT) which was down 4.20% to 36.070 in late trade, Genfit (PA:GNFT) which lost 2.97% to settle at 29.390 and Elis Services SA (PA:ELIS) which was down 2.72% to 17.50 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Paris Stock Exchange by 370 to 240 and 95 ended unchanged.

Shares in Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin SCA (PA:MICP) rose to all time highs; gaining 2.52% or 2.85 to 116.10. Shares in Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin SCA (PA:MICP) rose to all time highs; gaining 2.52% or 2.85 to 116.10.

The CAC 40 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of CAC 40 options, was up 1.99% to 28.15 a new 6-months high.

Gold Futures for June delivery was up 0.29% or 3.70 to $1287.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June fell 2.74% or 1.39 to hit $49.32 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract fell 2.45% or 1.30 to trade at $51.69 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.29% to 1.0686, while EUR/GBP fell 0.14% to 0.8354.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.19% at 99.90.

Italy stocks lower at close of trade; Investing.com Italy 40 down 0.49%

Investing.com – Italy stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Chemicals, Travel&Leisure and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Milan, the Investing.com Italy 40 declined 0.49%.

The best performers of the session on the Investing.com Italy 40 were Leonardo SpA (MI:LDOF), which rose 1.15% or 0.160 points to trade at 14.030 at the close. Meanwhile, Generali (MI:GASI) added 0.99% or 0.14 points to end at 14.25 and A2A (MI:A2) was up 0.98% or 0.013 points to 1.335 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Banca Generali (MI:BGN), which fell 2.24% or 0.57 points to trade at 24.93 at the close. Atlantia (MI:ATL) declined 2.04% or 0.46 points to end at 22.14 and Salvatore Ferragamo (MI:SFER) was down 2.01% or 0.55 points to 26.80.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Milan Stock Exchange by 215 to 129 and 15 ended unchanged.

Shares in Leonardo SpA (MI:LDOF) rose to 5-year highs; up 1.15% or 0.160 to 14.030.

Crude oil for June delivery was down 2.72% or 1.38 to $49.33 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in June fell 2.43% or 1.29 to hit $51.70 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.29% or 3.70 to trade at $1287.50 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was down 0.29% to 1.0686, while EUR/GBP fell 0.14% to 0.8354.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.19% at 99.90.

Finland stocks lower at close of trade; OMX Helsinki 25 down 0.37%

Investing.com – Finland stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Technology, Oil&Gas and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Helsinki, the OMX Helsinki 25 lost 0.37%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Helsinki 25 were Outotec Oyj (HE:OTE1V), which rose 3.43% or 0.215 points to trade at 6.485 at the close. Meanwhile, Konecranes Abp (HE:KCRA) added 0.91% or 0.30 points to end at 33.30 and Nokian Renkaat Oyj (HE:NRE1V) was up 0.73% or 0.28 points to 38.40 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were YIT Oyj (HE:YTY1V), which fell 3.60% or 0.24 points to trade at 6.56 at the close. Cargotec Oyj (HE:CGCBV) declined 2.23% or 1.12 points to end at 49.18 and Amer Sports Corporation (HE:AMEAS) was down 1.70% or 0.37 points to 21.41.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Helsinki Stock Exchange by 68 to 64 and 22 ended unchanged.

Shares in Outotec Oyj (HE:OTE1V) rose to 52-week highs; rising 3.43% or 0.215 to 6.485.

Brent oil for June delivery was down 2.34% or 1.24 to $51.75 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June fell 2.64% or 1.34 to hit $49.37 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.33% or 4.20 to trade at $1288.00 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was down 0.25% to 1.0690, while EUR/GBP fell 0.14% to 0.8354.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.16% at 99.87.

U.K. stocks lower at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 down 0.03%

Investing.com – U.K. stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Oil Equipment Services&Distribution, Household Goods&Home Construction and Industrial Metals&Mining sectors led shares lower.

At the close in London, the Investing.com United Kingdom 100 fell 0.03%.

The best performers of the session on the Investing.com United Kingdom 100 were Babcock International Group PLC (LON:BAB), which rose 2.61% or 23.00 points to trade at 903.00 at the close. Meanwhile, Associated British Foods PLC (LON:ABF) added 1.96% or 54.00 points to end at 2814.00 and Marks and Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS) was up 1.92% or 6.80 points to 360.50 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL), which fell 1.67% or 19.00 points to trade at 1117.50 at the close. Johnson Matthey PLC (LON:JMAT) declined 1.55% or 45.00 points to end at 2856.00 and Dixons Carphone PLC (LON:DC) was down 1.45% or 4.70 points to 319.10.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the London Stock Exchange by 960 to 900 and 499 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for June delivery was up 0.29% or 3.70 to $1287.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June fell 2.29% or 1.16 to hit $49.55 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract fell 2.06% or 1.09 to trade at $51.90 a barrel.

GBP/USD was down 0.15% to 1.2793, while EUR/GBP fell 0.10% to 0.8358.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.15% at 99.86.

Poland stocks lower at close of trade; WIG30 down 0.84%

Investing.com – Poland stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Telecoms, Banking and Energy sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Warsaw, the WIG30 fell 0.84%.

The best performers of the session on the WIG30 were PKP Cargo (WA:PKPP), which rose 2.45% or 1.52 points to trade at 63.52 at the close. Meanwhile, ING Bank Śląski SA (WA:INGP) added 2.34% or 3.95 points to end at 172.40 and Kruk SA (WA:KRU) was up 1.48% or 4.00 points to 273.75 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were CD Projekt SA (WA:CDR), which fell 2.77% or 1.90 points to trade at 66.71 at the close. Cyfrowy Polsat SA (WA:CPS) declined 2.65% or 0.65 points to end at 23.85 and Synthos SA (WA:SNS) was down 2.62% or 0.140 points to 5.210.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Warsaw Stock Exchange by 317 to 226 and 178 ended unchanged.

Shares in Kruk SA (WA:KRU) rose to all time highs; gaining 1.48% or 4.00 to 273.75.

Crude oil for June delivery was down 2.15% or 1.09 to $49.62 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in June fell 1.83% or 0.97 to hit $52.02 a barrel, while the June Gold Futures contract rose 0.21% or 2.70 to trade at $1286.50 a troy ounce.

EUR/PLN was unchanged 0.00% to 4.2656, while USD/PLN rose 0.24% to 3.9900.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.16% at 99.87.

Turkey stocks higher at close of trade; BIST 100 up 0.42%

Investing.com – Turkey stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Wholesale&Retail Trade, Tourism and Transport sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 added 0.42% to hit a new 3-years high.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Kardemir Karabuk Demir Celik Sanayi ve Ticaret D (IS:KRDMD), which rose 4.10% or 0.050 points to trade at 1.270 at the close. Meanwhile, Tumosan Motor Ve Traktor (IS:TMSN) added 3.25% or 0.240 points to end at 7.630 and Tekfen Holding (IS:TKFEN) was up 2.55% or 0.23 points to 9.25 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Koza Madencilik (IS:KOZAA), which fell 2.70% or 0.060 points to trade at 2.160 at the close. Alcatel Lucent Teletas Telekomunikasyon AS Class A (IS:ALCTL) declined 2.44% or 0.220 points to end at 8.800 and Celebi (IS:CLEBI) was down 2.38% or 0.58 points to 23.78.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 183 to 152 and 70 ended unchanged.

Shares in Tekfen Holding (IS:TKFEN) rose to all time highs; rising 2.55% or 0.23 to 9.25.

Gold Futures for June delivery was up 0.21% or 2.70 to $1286.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June fell 2.23% or 1.13 to hit $49.58 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract fell 1.96% or 1.04 to trade at $51.95 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.26% to 3.6507, while EUR/TRY fell 0.17% to 3.9035.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.17% at 99.88.

Dollar holds onto modest gains after positive U.S. data

Investing.com - The dollar held onto modest gains against other major currencies on Friday, after the release of positive U.S. housing sector data, but the greenback’s upside was expected to remain limited as markets looked on to the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday.

The U.S. National Association of Realtors said existing home sales increased by 4.4% in March to5.71 million units from the previous month’s revised total of 5.47 million units. Analysts had expected a 2.5% rise to 5.60 million units last month.

EUR/USD slipped 0.23% to 1.0691, off the previous session’s nearly one-month peak of 1.0721.

The euro weakened after a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Market participants were now eyeing the first round of the French presidential election due on Sunday, as recent polls have forecast the most likely outcome to be centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Earlier Friday, research group Markit said its flash euro zone composite purchasing manager’s index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors increased to a six-year high of 56.7 in April from 56.4 last month, beating forecasts for a drop to 56.3.

Elsewhere, GBP/USD edged down 0.21% to 1.2785 after the U.K. Office for National Statistics said retail sales slumped 1.8% in March, confounding expectations for a 0.2% slip. Year-on-year, retail sales increased 1.7% last month, compared to forecasts for a 3.4% rise.

But the pound’s losses were limited since U.K. Prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday called a snap election for June 8.

USD/JPY fell 0.24% to trade at 109.07, while USD/CHF dipped 0.03% to 0.9983.

The Australian dollar was steady, with AUD/USD at 0.7532, while NZD/USD slipped 0.09% to 0.7005.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD gained 0.35% to trade at a fresh six-week high of 1.3517 after Statistics Canada said the consumer price index increased by 0.2% in March, compared to forecasts for a 0.4% gain and after a 0.2% rise the previous month.

Year-on-year, consumer prices rose 1.6% last month, below expectations for a 1.8% increase.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose by 0.3% in March, after a gain of 0.4% in February.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.16% at 99.86, the highest level since Tuesday and away from Thursday’s three-week low of 99.29.

U.S. existing home sales rise more than expected in March

Investing.com – U.S. existing home sales rose more than expected in March, bolstering optimism over the health of the housing market, according to a report released on Friday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The industry data showed that home resales increased by 4.4% in March to a seasonally adjusted 5.71 million units from 5.47 million units in the previous month. February’s data was revised slightly lower from an initial reading of 5.48 million units.

The consensus forecast was for a 2.5% rise from February’s initial reading to 5.60 million units.

The data helps to gauge the strength of the U.S. housing market and is considered to be a key indicator of overall economic strength.

The report also showed that the median existing-home price in March was $236,400, up 6.8% from March 2016 ($221,400).

The report indicated that the existing-home sales took off in March to “their highest pace in over 10 years, and severe supply shortages resulted in the typical home coming off the market significantly faster than in February and a year ago.”

“The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

"Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain,” he remarked, adding that “sales will go up as long as inventory does."

After the report, EUR/USD was trading at 1.0687 from around 1.0701 ahead of the release of the data, GBP/USD was at 1.2793 from 1.2797 earlier, while USD/JPY traded at 109. compared to 109.11 before the release.

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was at 99.89, compared to 99.82 ahead of the report.

Meanwhile, U.S. stocks were trading slightly lower after the open. The Dow 30 slipped 13 points or 0.06%, the S&P 500 lost 2 points, or 0.11%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged down 4 points or 0.07%.

Elsewhere, in the commodities market, gold futures traded at $1,284.50 a troy ounce, compared to $1,283.50 ahead of the data, while U.S. crude oil changed hands at $50.46, compared to $50.52 earlier.

USD/CAD edges higher after Canadian inflation data disappoints

Investing.com - The U.S. dollar edged higher against its Canadian counterpart on Friday, after the release of disappointing Canadian inflation data, although the greenback’s gains were expected to remain limited.

USD/CAD hit 1.3498 during early U.S. trade, the session high; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.3492, adding 0.17%.

The pair was likely to find support at 1.3372, Wednesday’s low and resistance at 1.3496, the high of March 14.

Statistics Canada said the consumer price index increased by 0.2% in March, compared to forecasts for a 0.4% gain and after a 0.2% rise the previous month.

Year-on-year, consumer prices rose 1.6% last month, below expectations for a 1.8% increase.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose by 0.3% in March, after a gain of 0.4% in February.

But the commodity-related Canadian dollar found some support in higher oil prices on Friday, amid growing hopes OPEC members will extend their production-cut deal into the second half of the year.

On the other hand, the greenback mildly recovered from recent losses after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon.

The comments eased doubts over whether President Donald Trump will be able to pass tax reforms in the near term.

Meanwhile, investors remained cautious after a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Market participants were also eyeing the first round of the French presidential election due on Sunday, as recent polls have forecast the most likely outcome to be centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The loonie was steady against the euro, with EUR/CAD at 1.4444.

Canadian inflation rises less than expected in March, core CPI eases

Investing.com – Canadian inflation increased lesse than expected in March, according to official data released on Friday.

According to the report from Statistics Canada, consumer price index (CPI) for March increased 0.2% from the previous month, compared to forecasts for a 0.4% rise and after a 0.2% increase in February.

Year-on-year, CPI advanced 1.6% last month, compared to expectations for a 1.8% rise and an increase of 2.0% in February.

Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, rose by 0.3% in March, after a previous gain of 0.4%.

Year-on-year, core CPI advanced 1.3% in March, compared to a 1.7% increase in the previous month.

The BoC’s next monetary policy announcement is scheduled for Wednesday, May 24.

After the report, which was released simultaneously with U.S. durable goods orders, USD/CAD traded at 1.3492, compared to 1.3470 prior to the release.

Canadian core CPI 0.3%

Canadian core consumer price inflation rose last month, official data showed on Friday.

In a report, Statistics Canada said that Canadian core CPI rose to a seasonally adjusted 0.3%, from 0.4% in the preceding month.

Analysts had expected Canadian core CPI to last month.

Dollar index edges higher but gains capped

Investing.com - The dollar edged higher against other major currencies on Friday, but gains were capped as markets were still digesting Thursday’s Paris terrorist attack and gearing up for the first round of France’s presidential election amid ongoing U.S. political uncertainties.

EUR/USD slipped 0.23% to 1.0690, off the previous session’s nearly one-month peak of 1.0721.

A French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Market participants were eyeing the first round of the French presidential election due on Sunday, as recent polls have forecast the most likely outcome to be centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Earlier Friday, research group Markit said its flash euro zone composite purchasing manager’s index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors increased to a six-year high of 56.7 in April from 56.4 last month, beating forecasts for a drop to 56.3.

Meanwhile, the greenback mildly recovered from recent losses after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon, easing doubts over whether President Donald Trump will be able to pass tax reforms in the near term.

But sentiment on the dollar remained vulnerable after North Korean state media warned the U.S. earlier in the week of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" and said don't "mess with us."

Elsewhere, GBP/USD fell 0.28% to 1.2777 after the U.K. Office for National Statistics said retail sales slumped 1.8% in March, confounding expectations for a 0.2% slip. Year-on-year, retail sales increased 1.7% last month, compared to forecasts for a 3.4% rise.

But the pound’s losses were limited since U.K. Prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday called a snap election for June 8.

USD/JPY edged down 0.19% to trade at 109.12, while USD/CHF held steady at 0.9988.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars turned moderately lower, with AUD/USD down 0.13% at 0.7519 and with NZD/USD easing 0.10% to 0.7003.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD held steady at 1.3472, not far from Thursday’s six-week high of 1.3501.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.16% at 99.87, the highest level since Tuesday and away from Thursday’s three-week low of 99.29.

U.S. stock index futures mixed ahead of data, earnings

Investing.com - U.S. stock index futures narrowly mixed Friday with earnings and data on tap. The Dow futures was off 0.02% at 06:45 ET. The DJI closed up 0.85% overnight. The S&P 500 futures gained 0.05%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.15%. The dollar index was close to its highs for the day as it moved toward the 100 mark. Oil edged higher ahead of Baker Hughes rig count. U.S. services/manufacturing PMIs, existing home sales on tap. (NYSE:GE), (NYSE:Honeywell) earnings due for release

India stocks lower at close of trade; Nifty 50 down 0.19%

Investing.com – India stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Green Energy and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in NSE, the Nifty 50 fell 0.19%, while the BSE Sensex 30 index lost 0.19%.

The best performers of the session on the Nifty 50 were Bharti Infratel Limited (NS:BHRI), which rose 2.99% or 10.25 points to trade at 352.85 at the close. Meanwhile, Reliance Industries Ltd (NS:RELI) added 2.41% or 32.95 points to end at 1402.50 and HDFC Bank Ltd . (NS:HDBK) was up 2.36% or 34.45 points to 1496.60 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NS:SUN), which fell 2.49% or 16.35 points to trade at 639.60 at the close. Bank Of Baroda (NS:BOB) declined 2.48% or 4.45 points to end at 175.20 and Adani Ports&Special Economic Zone (NS:APSE) was down 1.93% or 6.40 points to 326.00.

The top performers on the BSE Sensex 30 were HDFC Bank Ltd. (BO:HDBK) which rose 2.38% to 1496.75, Reliance Industries Ltd (BO:RELI) which was up 2.22% to settle at 1399.75 and NTPC Limited (BO:NTPC) which gained 1.83% to close at 166.70.

The worst performers were Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (BO:SUN) which was down 2.41% to 640.05 in late trade, Cipla Ltd. (BO:CIPL) which lost 1.84% to settle at 563.40 and ITC Ltd (BO:ITC) which was down 1.81% to 274.35 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the India National Stock Exchange by 793 to 782 and 7 ended unchanged; on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1405 rose and 1386 declined, while 132 ended unchanged.

Shares in HDFC Bank Ltd. (NS:HDBK) rose to all time highs; up 2.36% or 34.45 to 1496.60. Shares in HDFC Bank Ltd. (BO:HDBK) rose to all time highs; rising 2.38% or 34.80 to 1496.75.

The India VIX, which measures the implied volatility of Nifty 50 options, was down 1.19% to 11.4225.

Gold Futures for June delivery was up 0.02% or 0.20 to $1284.00 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June rose 0.06% or 0.03 to hit $50.74 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract rose 0.11% or 0.06 to trade at $53.05 a barrel.

USD/INR was down 0.12% to 64.618, while EUR/INR fell 0.21% to 69.1099.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 99.83.

Crude prices hold steady as markets pause

Investing.com - U.S. oil prices held steady on Friday, as markets were still digesting Thursday’s Paris terrorist attack and were gearing up for the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday amid ongoing uncertainties over global oil supply levels.

U.S. crude futures for June delivery held steady at $50.70 a barrel, just off Wednesday’s two-week trough of $50.09.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, the June Brent contract was little changed at $53.01 a barrel, not far from Wednesday’s nearly three-week low of $52.58.

Markets were jittery after a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Market participants were also eyeing the first round of the French presidential election due on Sunday, as recent polls have forecast the most likely outcome to be centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile, the greenback mildly recovered from recent losses after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon.

The comments eased doubts over whether President Donald Trump will be able to pass tax reforms in the near term.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was steady at 99.76 on Friday, off the previous session’s three-week lows of 99.29.

Oil prices typically weaken when the U.S. currency strengthens as the dollar-priced commodity becomes more expensive for holders of other currencies.

But sentiment on the greenback remained under pressure after North Korean state media warned the U.S. earlier in the week of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" and said don't "mess with us."

On the other hand, crude oil prices were also under pressure amid concerns an ongoing rebound in U.S. shale production could derail efforts by other major producers to rebalance global oil supply and demand.

In November last year, OPEC and other producers, including Russia agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day between January and June. A final decision on whether or not to extend the deal beyond June will be taken by the oil cartel on May 25.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said this week that crude oil inventories fell by 1.0 million barrels in the week ended April 14, a smaller draw than expected.

The report also showed that gasoline inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels, disappointing expectations for a drop 1.9 million barrels, despite heavier refining activity.

Top 5 Things to Know In the Market on Friday

Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, April 21:

1. Eyes on run up to French election

All eyes were on France Friday after a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

The attack came as market participants were eyeing the first round of the French presidential election due on Sunday, as recent polls have forecast the most likely outcome to be centrist Emmanuel Macron against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen, well known for her anti-immigration stance, called on the government to immediately reinstate French borders and to expel foreigners monitored by intelligence services due to Thursday night’s incident.

In what is considered to be a close call of first round voting, investors are fearful over the prospect of a second round run-off, scheduled for May 7, between euro skeptics Le Pen and far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who both want to put the country’s European Union membership to a vote.

A victory from either party would be bearish for the euro and currency traders are set to start work in Australia before dawn Monday, as market players remember polls’ failure to predict the outcome of both the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election last year.

2. Global stocks show muted trade

Global stocks saw mostly muted trade on Friday as investors weighed in on a terrorist attack in Paris ahead of the first round of French elections.

Investors took a cautious stance in European equities while waiting for the results of the vote on Sunday with the Euro Stoxx 50 down 0.4% and Paris’ CAC 40 unwinding the prior day’s surge with losses of 0.6%.

Asia saw mixed trade but Japan's Nikkei 225 surged 1% as the country’s central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda said he will keep accommodative policy in place.

U.S. futures pointed to a muted open as investors took a breather after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the administration was close to "major tax reform”, sending Wall Street higher on Thursday. At 5:46AM ET (9:46GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures inched up 0.01%, S&P 500 futures edged forward 0.05% and the Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.17%.

3. European economic activity hits 6-year high with U.S. PMIs on tap

On the data front Friday, investors were focused on readings of activity in manufacturing and service sectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

The euro zone composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) registered a six-year high in April, pointing to an increase in growth at the start of the second quarter.

Stateside, Markit will release its PMIs for the U.S. at 9:45AM ET (13:45GMT) Friday.

Additionally, the National Association of Realtors will publish its report on existing home sales at 10:00AM ET (14:00GMT).

4. Oil on track for biggest weekly decline in a month

Oil traded near the unchanged mark on Friday, but was on track for weekly losses of more than 5%, its biggest decline in a month as U.S. gasoline stockpiles showed their first increase since February.

Investors were also cautious ahead of the latest weekly data on U.S. drilling activity which has been ramping up and threatening to counteract a deal between OPEC and non-OPEC countries including Russia to cut production in an attempt to reduce the global supply glut.

Last week, Baker Hughes said the weekly U.S. rig count rose by 11 to 683, for the thirteenth straight weekly increase near two-year highs.

U.S. crude oil futures slipped 0.02% to $50.70 at 5:48AM ET (9:48GMT), while Brent oil edged down 0.04% to $52.97.

5. Fed steps up pace on balance sheet normalization strategy

The Federal Reserve (Fed), intent on moving ahead with monetary policy normalization, has reportedly intensified discussions to plan out how it will shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet in a process that many Fed officials have said could start “later this year”.

Staff from the U.S. central bank are widening their consultations to bond fund managers in order to decide how they should tailor and communicate the balance sheet normalization as it seeks to exit its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-back securities, according to a Bloomberg report.

The New York Fed’s regular survey of market participants, which is due back Monday, included several questions on the eventual balance-sheet exit, focusing on timing of the announcement to how many months it would take to shrink to a more appropriate level, according to the news agency.

Recent week data had caused markets to scale back expectations for rate hikes from the Fed, something that Goldman Sachs warned could be an underestimation of the factors that point towards a steady and continuous policy tightening.

As of Friday, Fed fund futures put the odds of the first hike in June at 54.5% but priced in the probably of the central bank following through on its promise for two increases this year at only around 32%, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool.

GBP/USD little changed after U.K. data miss

Investing.com - The pound was little changed against the U.S. dollar on Friday, after the release of downbeat U.K. retail sales data, as news this week of a snap election in June continued to support demand for sterling and as sentiment on the greenback remained vulnerable.

GBP/USD hit 1.2773 during European morning trade, the session low; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.2806.

Cable was likely to find support at 1.2766, the low of April 19 and resistance at 1.2909, the high of April 18 and a six-month peak.

The U.K. Office for National Statistics said retail sales slumped 1.8% in March after an increase of 1.7% in April, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated gain of 1.4%. Analysts had expected retail sales to drop by only 0.2% last month.

Year-on-year, retail sales increased 1.7% last month, compared to forecasts for growth of 3.4%.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales and fuel, decreased by 1.5% in March, confounding expectations for a 0.4% fall.

But the pound remained broadly supported after U.K. Prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday called a snap election for June 8.

The next day, the British Parliament approved by an overwhelming 522 votes against 13 May’s call for an early election, setting the stage what will define the terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Meanwhile, the greenback regained some footing after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon, easing doubts over whether President Donald Trump will be able to pass tax reforms in the near term.

But sentiment on the dollar remained vulnerable amid mounting tensions with North Korea, whose state media warned the U.S. earlier in the week of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" and said don't "mess with us."

Thursday’s disappointing data on U.S. initial jobless claims and manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area also weighed.

Sterling was also moderately lower against the euro, with EUR/GBP adding 0.10% to 0.8375.

Philippines stocks higher at close of trade; PSEi Composite up 0.19%

Investing.com – Philippines stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Services, Property and Holding Firms sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Philippines, the PSEi Composite added 0.19%.

The best performers of the session on the PSEi Composite were DMCI Holdings Inc (PS:DMC), which rose 4.24% or 0.520 points to trade at 12.780 at the close. Meanwhile, GT Capital Holdings Inc (PS:GTCAP) added 2.81% or 33.00 points to end at 1208.00 and Jollibee Foods Corp (PS:JFC) was up 1.46% or 3.00 points to 208.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Universal Robina Corp (PS:URC), which fell 1.73% or 3.00 points to trade at 170.00 at the close. SM Investments Corp (PS:SM) declined 1.04% or 7.50 points to end at 711.00 and Bank of the Philippine Islands (PS:BPI) was down 1.04% or 1.10 points to 104.70.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Philippines Stock Exchange by 107 to 87 and 45 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for June delivery was down 0.10% or 1.30 to $1282.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in June rose 0.06% or 0.03 to hit $50.74 a barrel, while the June Brent oil contract rose 0.11% or 0.06 to trade at $53.05 a barrel.

CNY/PHP was down 0.11% to 7.2300, while USD/PHP fell 0.09% to 49.778.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.02% at 99.69.

U.K. retail sales tumble in March, missing expectations

Investing.com – Retail sales in the U.K. fell much more than expected in March, dampening optimism over the British economy, official data showed on Friday.

In a report, U.K. Office for National Statistics said that retail sales slumped 1.8% in March from the prior month, compared to the previous 1.7% advance which was revised from a previous gain of 1.4%.

Analysts had expected March’s reading to drop by only 0.2%.

Year-on-year, retail sales increased 1.7% last month, compared to forecasts for growth of 3.4% and February’s 3.7% advance.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales and fuel, decreased by 1.5% in March, compared to the prior 1.6% advance which was revised from an initial gain of 1.3%.

Analysts had expected core retail sales to decline by 0.4% last month.

Year-on-year, core retail sales rose 2.6% in March, compared to the previous month’s 4.1% increase and the consensus forecast for 3.9% advance.

In an immediate reaction, GBP/USD traded at 1.2796 from around 1.2801 ahead of the release of the data, EUR/GBP was at 0.8379 from 0.8377 earlier, while GBP/JPY traded at 139.63 compared to 139.71 before the report.

Meanwhile, European stock markets traded mixed. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.12%, the Euro Stoxx 50 lost 0.38%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.58%, while Germany's DAX edged forward 0.02%.

U.K. retail sales -1.8% vs. -0.2% forecast

Retail sales in the U.K. fell more-than-expected last month, official data showed on Friday.

In a report, U.K. Office for National Statistics said that retail sales fell to -1.8%, from 1.7% in the preceding month whose figure was revised up from 1.4%.

Analysts had expected retail sales to fall -0.2% last month.

Global stocks mixed, euro steady ahead of French election

Investing,com - Asia mostly followed Wall St higher on U.S. tax reform bets.
Nikkei 225 up 1.04% as yen mostly steady at 109 mark against the dollar.
Europe mixed. DAX up 0.14% as euro holds above $1.07 ahead of French election.
FTSE 100 flat. Pound steady above $1.28.
U.S. stock index futures higher as Wall St firms on Mnuchin tax reform plans.
The dollar index edges lower after losing momentum on tax cut bets.
Oil flat ahead of Baker Hughes rig count data.
Gold lower. U.S. Treasury yields little changed.

Euro Zone Services PMI 56.2 vs. 56.0 forecast

Euro zone service sector activity rose unexpectedly in the last quarter, industry data showed on Friday.

In a report, markit said that Euro Zone Services PMI rose to 56.2, from 56.0 in the preceding quarter.

Analysts had expected Euro Zone Services PMI to remain unchanged at 56.0 in the last quarter.