London stocks were lifted by data showing UK retail sales rose 0.6 percent in October

New York (AFP) - US and European stock markets mostly picked up on Friday as investors fished for bargains and shrugged off losses elsewhere, but oil prices dropped over concerns on the world economy.

London stocks were lifted by official data showing UK retail sales rose in October, rebounding from a 1.5-percent slump in the prior month.

The news also boosted the pound, which fell the previous day on a harsh government budget and confirmation that Britain was in recession.

Major European indices closed in the green, with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.5 percent and the Paris CAC 40 rising one percent.

But analysts cautioned that the UK remains gripped by a cost-of-living crisis.

“It is not the start of a promising trend,” said Craig Erlam, an analyst at trading platform OANDA.

Wall Street stocks mostly bounced as well on positive results from retailers including Gap and Foot Locker, while investors tried to shake off concerns over further interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve.

The retailers’ good news have “mitigated some of the weakness seen earlier this week,” following Target’s disappointing results, said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com.

But with worries about the world’s economy and rising coronavirus cases in China, the price of the main US crude oil contract, WTI, tumbled on Friday below $80 a barrel for the first time since the end of September.

The main international oil contract, Brent crude, also fell by nearly three percent Friday around 1630 GMT.

- Fears abound -

Asian equities experienced mixed fortunes however, as cautious investors tried to gauge the outlook for US interest rates.

While the week has been broadly positive for global markets following softer-than-expected US consumer and wholesale price inflation, a strong reading on retail sales and jobless claims showed resilience in the face of higher interest rates.

Investors also have been downbeat after a string of Fed officials stressed the message that more rate hikes will be needed to bring down surging inflation, feeding fears of a recession in the world’s biggest economy.

Boston Fed Bank President Susan Collins was the latest to do so Friday, although she said the central bank’s “intent is not a significant downturn.”

This came after St Louis Fed President James Bullard warned Thursday that US interest rates might need to go as high as seven percent.

Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter said: “Investors seem continually surprised by the Fed merely repeating its mantra.”

“Rates are likely to continue rising… and may well stay higher until such time as a sustained slowdown in inflation is evident,” he said.

- Key figures around 2135 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 33,745.69 points (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 3,965.34 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: FLAT at 11,146.06 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.2 percent at 3,924.84 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,385.52 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.0 percent at 6,644.46 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.2 percent at 14,431.86 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 27,899.77 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.3 percent at 17,992.54 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,097.24 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.1883 from $1.1867 on Thursday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0321 from $1.0370

Dollar/yen: UP at 140.40 yen from 140.20 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.83 from 87.34 pence

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.4 percent at $87.62 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.9 percent at $80.08 per barrel

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