Stocks build on Wall Street gains

London, United Kingdom: Global stock markets rose Friday as a forecast-beating US jobs report bolstered the economic outlook and soothed recent worries over rising infections and new lockdowns in Europe.

London, Paris, and Frankfurt extended a global rally heading into the weekend, buoyed by upbeat UK retail data and strong German business sentiment.

World oil prices rebounded at the end of a rollercoaster trading week that was rocked by a mega-ship blocking the Suez Canal, a major global transit point for the commodity.

"Economic recovery optimism is boosting equity indices higher as we head towards the weekend," said OANDA analyst Sophie Griffiths.

"Better-than-forecast US initial jobless claims, rebounding UK retail sales and stronger-than-expected German business sentiment are boosting" stock markets, she added.

However, long-running concerns over inflation caused by the expected economic resurgence continue to cast a pall over trading floors, while China-US tensions have also inched back into the narrative.

Wall Street's three main indexes enjoyed gains after data showed US unemployment claims last week came in below 700,000 for the first time since the pandemic, reinforcing optimism that the world's top economy is on the mend.

And Asia followed suit, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Mumbai, and Taipei each adding more than one percent.

The US jobs figures came as President Joe Biden gave the first news conference of his presidency, at which he promised 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine would be administered in his first 100 days.

His pledge lifted hopes that strict containment measures could be gradually lifted, allowing life to return to a semblance of normality sooner and getting people spending again.

But the positive outlook has investors fearing a huge consumer spending splurge -- along with Biden's recently passed $1.9 trillion stimuli -- will send inflation soaring and force the Federal Reserve to tighten the ultra-loose monetary policies that have been a key pillar of a year-long markets rally.

Europe's virus, vaccine woes

Traders are keeping an eye on developments in Europe, whose leaders are struggling to get their vaccination programs rolling at the same time they try to prevent another wave of infections.

Germany and France are among the countries that have had to revert to containment measures, raising concerns the region's economy will take longer to emerge from the crisis than the United States and Britain, where inoculations are speeding along.

The problems in Europe were also roiling oil markets, which have swung wildly this week -- plunging on fears about demand as the recovery stutters, but rallying on a hit to supplies caused by a container ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal.

The commodity -- which earlier this month struck a 14-month high, returning to pre-pandemic levels -- climbed Friday, having shed more than four percent on Thursday.

Key figures around 1145 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 6,723.69 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 14,738.83

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,982.83

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,820.37

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.6 percent at 29,176.70 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.6 percent at 28,336.43 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.6 percent at 3,418.33 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 32,619.48 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1774 from $1.1764 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3774 from $1.3734

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.48 pence from 85.66 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.68 yen from 109.19 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.1 percent at $59.76 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $63.08 per barrel

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