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07:51aDJEUROPE MARKETS : European Stocks Bounce Back, As Banks Revive
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EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Bounce Back, As Banks Revive

02/12/2016 | 07:51am US/Eastern

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

Commerzbank rises on dividend news

European stocks jumped Friday, coming back from a sharp selloff in the previous session, and held to higher ground after the release of economic growth figures for the eurozone.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 2% to 309.69, with oil and gas and financial shares leading all sectors higher.

Topping the index was Commerzbank AG (>> Commerzbank AG), whose shares charged up 17%. That performance, the best since July 2009, came after the lender swung to a fourth-quarter profit. Commerzbanks said it plans to pay its first dividend since 2007, (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/commerzbank-to-pay-dividend-after-swing-to-profit-2016-02-12)of 20 euro cents (23 U.S. cents) a share for 2015.

Read: Commerzbank eyes extending negative interest rates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/commerzbank-eyes-extending-negative-interest-rates-2016-02-12)

The rise in the Stoxx 600 was a bit of relief after Thursday's tumble of 3.7% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-knocked-to-lowest-since-2013-as-fear-selling-returns-2016-02-11) to 303.58, its lowest close since September 2013. That also marked the largest percentage drop since August, according to FactSet data.

"Traders are thinking enough is enough, and let's bag some bargain[s]," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, in a note.

"If the downward spiral for the global equity market is coming to an end, it is way too early to say," he added. "The bounce which we may experience may not last for long, as investors are apprehensive about the banking sector, due to the low interest rate environment and feeble growth."

In Frankfurt Friday, the DAX 30 gained 1% to 8,841.50. France's CAC 40 picked up 1% at 3,936.63 and the U.K's FTSE 100 gained 1.5% to 5,618.

Down for week: A weekly fall of 5% for Stoxx 600 looks likely, and that would build on last week's drop of 4.8%. More than $1.8 billion was pulled from European equity funds during the week ended Feb. 10 "as investors continue to focus on the health of the region's banking system," said fund-tracker EPFR in an update.

So far this year, the Stoxx 600 has stumbled 15.3%. Last year, the index rose 6.8%.

Bank shares: The Stoxx 600 Bank Index pushed up nearly 4%, after the group on Thursday led the selloff in Europe.

Shares of Deutsche Bank AG (>> Deutsche Bank AG) (>> Deutsche Bank AG) on Friday leapt 8.7%, and UniCredit SpA (>> UniCredit SpA) picked up 7.4%. Italy's Banco Popolare Societa Cooperativa (>> Banco Popolare Societa Cooperativa) moved 9% higher, after its CEO said it will close a merger deal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/banco-popolare-set-for-popolare-di-milano-deal-2016-02-12)with Banca Popolare di Milano (>> Banca Popolare di Milano) soon. Banca Popolare di Milano shares were up 5%.

Bucking the trend, Italy's embattled Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (>> Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA) lost 3.8%, while Portuguese lender Banco Comercial Portugues SA (BPCGY) dropped 1.2%.

"We see bank weakness, especially in Europe, as being driven by a weakening macro outlook, commodity price exposure and idiosyncratic events at Deutsche Bank and in Italy," said Barclays analysts in a note.

"Although we hesitate to call a bottom for subordinated European bank paper in general, this effect is now overdone for higher-quality banks, in our view," they added.

Data: Fourth-quarter growth in the eurozone economy met expectations, rising 0.3% from the previous three months (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eurozone-gdp-rises-03-on-quarter-15-on-year-2016-02-12). Gross domestic product expanded by 1.5% in 2015 as a whole. For Germany alone, GDP rose 0.3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/german-gdp-grows-03-meeting-views-2016-02-12) in quarter, as exports fell.

Eurostat data released Friday showed eurozone industrial production fell 1% in December. Analysts had expected a rise of 0.3%.

The euro had risen to an intraday high of $1.1325 after the GDP report, but eventually pulled back to trade at $1.1273. Late Thursday, the shared currency bought $1.1323.

You're invited to Investing Insights: A global markets survival guide

If you'll be in London on Tuesday, Feb. 23, you're invited to join us for an evening of cocktails and conversation on the topics of shifting monetary policy, growth, currencies, and the outlook for investing opportunities and risks in European and global markets.

Our panelists for the evening will include MarketWatch Personal Finance and Investing Columnist Robert Powell; and Mark Hulbert, Editor of the Hulbert Financial Digest.

The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP for the event, please email (MarketWatchevent@wsj.com).

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