European stocks closed lower in subdued trade Friday, under pressure from gloomy forecasts for the French economy while the euro was firmer as trade quietened before the long Christmas break. Dealers said a warning from the French statistics institute that the country was likely to be in recession through to the first quarter of 2012 dampened sentiment even if it was not unexpected, Wall Street Journal informs. They said investors were nervous too about a possible eurozone ratings downgrade, with both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s having warned the bloc is being looked at closely after a disappointing EU summit last week. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti managed to get his package of tough austerity measures through parliament via a vote of confidence, aiming to speed up implementation.
A warning by International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde that the eurozone debt crisis put the world at risk of a Great Depression attracted much attention but added little new for investors to trade on. In London, the FTSE-100 index of top companies closed down 0.25 percent at 5,387.34 points. In Paris, the CAC-40 dropped 0.88 percent to 2,972.30 points and in Frankfurt the DAX 30 lost 0.50 percent to 5,701.78 points. Milan finished down 0.38 percent and Madrid fell 0.57 percent. S&P “has a habit of downgrading Europeans late on a Friday night,” said a Forex.com analyst. The European single currency edged up to USD1.3037, compared with USD 1.3017 in New York late Thursday.
In New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.34 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 1.10 percent at around 1650 GMT. Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) fell by 0.97 pc in a market where some investors have started to mark some of the profits made on Thursday SIF shares, so that prices of these securities have dropped by up to 3.2 pc, as Mediafax informs. The most securities have decreased slightly since the first minutes, while the investors have returned to the waiting position after Thursday they were very active in trading, especially on SIFs titles. At the end of the session, shares of the five financial investment companies recorded corrections up to 3.24 pc, after rising ended Thursday up to 14.7 pc due to approval by members of the draft law on increasing the threshold of ownership from 1 pc to 5 pc of SIF.