End of a wild week of volatility

LONDON — European markets pulled back on Friday as global stocks closed out a week of extreme volatility following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 1.6% by mid-afternoon, with autos shedding 2.6% to lead losses as all sectors slid into the red except travel and leisure, which gained 0.5%.

Earnings were a key driver of individual share price movement on Friday. Dutch lighting company Signify jumped more than 9% after a strong set of results, while Swedish clothing giant H&M gained 2.8%.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, German chemicals company Henkel dropped 10% after its earnings report.

Markets have whipsawed throughout the week as investors reacted to the Fed’s indication on Wednesday that it could soon raise interest rates for the first time in more than three years, and to rising geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

After a sharply negative open on Thursday, European stocks clawed back losses and closed 0.7% higher after U.S. GDP figures came in stronger than expected.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Friday after another wild session on Wall Street, while U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street, despite having earlier been in positive territory, boosted by gains for Apple after the company reported its largest ever single quarter in terms of revenue.

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French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH on Thursday said it sees a surge in demand for its fashion, handbags and jewelry products persisting into 2022 after a sharp acceleration in fourth-quarter sales growth to 20.04 billion euros ($22.34 billion).

Data deluge

Economic data releases included flash German, French and Spanish fourth-quarter GDP numbers, Italian inflation prints and a euro zone business climate survey.

France’s economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, Friday’s preliminary figures showed, bringing the full-year growth rate to a five-decade high of 7% in 2021 following an 8% contraction in 2020.

Spanish GDP grew 2% quarter on quarter, also exceeding consensus expectations and bringing annual growth to 5%.

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