LONDON Dec 23 European stocks edged higher on
Friday helped by banks after two regional bellwethers settled
U.S. mortgage securities probes, while oil and the dollar were
on the back foot in light trading ahead of the Christmas break.
In another boost to European financials, a bailout for
Italy's oldest bank Monte dei Paschi was approved as the
country's government looks to end a protracted banking crisis
that has gummed up the economy.
European shares were up 0.1 percent with euro zone
banks up 0.7 percent and comfortably outperforming
broader markets. An index of Italian lenders was up
While Monte dei Paschi shares were suspended from trading,
Italian government bond yields fell with ten-year yields
slipping 3 basis points to 1.82 percent.
"Banks run the show today," said analysts at Kepler Chevreux
in a note to clients, adding that the newsflow around Italian
lenders was turning positive.
Deutsche Bank's $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S.
Department of Justice over toxic mortgage securities sold in the
run-up to the 2008 financial crisis was nearly half of the fine
initially levied in September. Deutsche Banks shares rose 4.4
percent and are up 86 percent since September lows.
Credit Suisse shares rose 0.6 percent after it
agreed to pay $5.3 billion to the DOJ to settle similar charges.
Barclays became the latest in a long-list of other lenders under
investigation to be sued.
Elsewhere markets were quiet with UK markets closing at
The dollar headed into the Christmas break on Friday just
over half a percent off highs hit after this month's U.S.
Federal Reserve policy meeting.
The dollar is up more than 7 percent against a basket of
currencies since lows hit on U.S. election night in November but
has been flat for the past week.
The dollar index, hovering near a 14-year high, was
marginally lower at 103.03 but remained within striking distance
of the week's 103.65 peak.
"My overall sense is that we'll start the year eking out
further gains from the post-Trump trends, before we get a change
of tack," said Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes.
The euro was also a shade firmer at $1.0440, having
rebounded only modestly from a nearly 14-year low of $1.0350 set
earlier in the week.
Oil prices slipped, eroding some of the gains in the
previous session as traders took profits.
Brent crude for February delivery dropped 19 cents,
or 0.4 percent, to $54.86 a barrel after ending 1.1 percent
higher on Thursday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 28 cents, or
0.5 percent, to $52.67 a barrel after gaining 0.9 percent in the
(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar)