European, US stocks finish week on positive note

US stocks finished a lackluster week on a positive note with Apple bouncing slightly after two losing sessions (SPENCER PLATT)
US stocks finished a lackluster week on a positive note with Apple bouncing slightly after two losing sessions (SPENCER PLATT)

European and US stock markets advanced Friday despite lingering concerns about further aggressive central bank actions as natural gas prices jumped on news of a strike in Australia.

Friday's gains came at the end of a lackluster week for equities in the wake of persistently high Treasury bond yields. US economic data has generally outperformed expectations, raising hopes a recession can be avoided, but adding to worries of more Federal Reserve interest rate increases.

"It seems that a lot of people are just waiting to see how quickly does this economy cool," said Oanda's Edward Moya, who described the current stretch as "a little bit of a choppy period."

The S&P 500 finished at 4,457.49, up 0.1 percent for the day but down 1.3 percent for the week.

Among individual companies, Apple advanced 0.4 percent, a partial recovery after two straight losing sessions on worries over reports of a China ban on iPhones at government offices.

Asian markets slid Friday, while European stocks pulled into positive territory during afternoon trading after a sluggish morning and closed higher.

"Investors are currently caught between two distinct pincers: concerns over slowing economic numbers, particularly in Europe and China, against a backdrop of much stickier inflation caused by rising energy prices," said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

Strong US readings -- including on the services sector and jobs -- and a surge in oil prices have sparked fears the Fed will announce one more hike before the end of the year or keep borrowing costs elevated for an extended period.

- Rolling strikes -

Elsewhere Friday, European natural gas prices rallied as much as 12.6 percent as workers launched rolling strikes at Chevron's gas plants in Western Australia, threatening a major production pipeline that pumps out five percent of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) stocks.

European nations have been importing considerably more LNG to replace reduced Russian supplies that were delivered by pipeline before the war in Ukraine.

The Offshore Alliance, which represents Chevron's highly unionized workforce, said Friday morning the global energy giant would "finally be facing their day of reckoning".

"It's game on, Chevron," it said in a statement, adding that facilities would be "shut down" if they lacked "competent personnel".

Strike action would slowly escalate in coming weeks, covering 500 staff and including "rolling stoppages, bans and limitations", according to union officials.

Chevron said it would "continue to take steps to maintain safe and reliable operations in the event of disruption at our facilities".

"Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions... we remain apart on key terms," a spokesman said in a statement sent minutes before the strike began.

"We have been advised that industrial action will commence today."

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 34,576.59 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 4,457.49 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 13,761.53 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,478.19 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.1 percent at 15,740.30 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 7,240.77 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 4,237.19 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 percent at 32,606.84 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,116.72 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: Closed for a storm

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0702 from $1.0696 on Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2469 from $1.2472

Dollar/yen: UP at 147.81 yen from 147.30 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 85.83 from 85.76 pence

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $90.65 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $87.51 per barrel