(Alliance News) - European stock markets opened higher on Friday, thanks in part to prospects that major central banks will soon begin reducing borrowing costs, as well as good corporate results contributing to investor optimism.

Among the economic data, these show how the U.K. economy returned to growth with a 0.6 percent expansion in the first quarter. This is the first expansion in four quarters, exceeding market expectations for 0.4 percent growth.

Investors will also assess Italian industrial production data on Friday, while signs of cooling in the U.S. labor market have strengthened "bets" on the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates.

Thus, the FTSE Mib advanced 0.7 percent to 34,564.23 points.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 is advancing 0.5 percent, Paris' CAC 40 is advancing 0.4 percent, while Frankfurt's DAX 40 is equally marking a 0.4 percent green.

The Mid-Cap is down 0.1 percent to 47,542.86, the Small-Cap is up 0.6 percent to 29,658.04, and Italy Growth is just below par at 8,241.37.

Among the headlines, the board of Iveco - up 4.5 percent - reported Friday that it ended the first quarter of 2024 with an adjusted net profit of EUR153 million, up EUR77 million from the first quarter of 2023. This figure excludes the EUR115 million pre- and post-tax loss from the signing of the definitive agreement to transfer ownership of the Fire Fighting business.

Strength also on Enel, which opened up 2.5 percent. It reported Thursday that it ended the first quarter of the year with group net income of EUR1.93 billion from EUR1.03 billion and up 87 percent from March 31, 2023. Revenues in the period stood at EUR19.43 billion from EUR26.41 billion in Q1 2023, marking a 26 percent decline.

The board of directors of Unipol Gruppo -- up 0.1 percent -- met Thursday to approve consolidated results as of March 31, reporting consolidated net income of EUR363 million, including the contribution of investees BPSO and BPER. Excluding the economic contribution of the banking holdings, the group ended the first quarter of 2024 with a consolidated net profit of EUR242 million, a 7.0 percent improvement over the first quarter 2023 result of EUR226 million.

Among the bearish few, Ferrari is marking minus 0.6%, on its fifth bearish candle.

On the MidCap, Caltagirtone advances 1.9 percent to EUR5.44 per share, on the heels of eve's 0.8 percent gain.

Salvatore Ferragamo - in the green by 1.6 percent - reported Thursday that it ended the first quarter with revenues of EUR227 million, down 18 percent at current exchange rates and 17 percent at constant exchange rates from the first quarter of 2023.

Carel Industries -- in the green by 1.4 percent -- reported Thursday that consolidated revenues amounted to EUR146.4 million compared to EUR161.0 million as of March 31, 2023, down 9.0 percent. Excluding the scope change related to the consolidation of Kiona and Eurotec of EUR7.3 million and the marginal negative exchange rate effect, the decline would have been 13 percent.

Brembo -- down 0.7 percent -- reported Thursday that it ended the first quarter with revenues of EUR1.00 billion, up 4.4 percent from EUR961.9 million in the same period a year earlier. Net income fell slightly, to EUR75.2 million from EUR76.8 million.

On the SmallCap, doValue--Friday announced that its subsidiary, doValue Greece Loan and Credit Claim Management Company S.A. has

signed two new servicing agreements in Greece. These agreements represent a total of approximately EUR1.0 billion GBV for doValue Greece.

Banca Profilo's board of directors -- down 0.5 percent -- approved the interim report as of March 31, 2024, closing with a net profit of EUR2.8 million, down 55 percent from the first three months of last year. Total customer deposits, including net trust deposits, stood at EUR6.1 billion, up from EUR5.8 billion as of March 31, 2023.

At the back of the pack is SoftLab, which marks a minus 3.1 percent, following a 1.5 percent red note on the eve of the event.

Among the SMBs, Impianti is advancing well, moving ahead 16 percent before going into volatility auction, on its third session with significant strength on the buy side.

Svas Biosana - flat at EUR8.05 - on Thursday reported that it closed the first quarter with consolidated revenues of EUR28.6 million from EUR26.4 million as of March 31, 2023, marking an increase of 8.3 percent.

DBA Group advances 8.2%, on the heels of eve's 5.0% green, updating a new 52-week high to EUR2.48 per share.

In New York, the Dow rallied 0.9%, the Nasdaq gained 0.3%, and the S&P 500 closed up 0.5%.

Among Asian exchanges, the Hang Seng was in the green by 2.1 percent, the Nikkei picked up 0.3 percent, and the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.1 percent.

Among currencies, the euro changes hands at USD1.0782 from USD1.0776 on Thursday in closing European equities while the pound is worth USD1.2532 from USD1.2514 last night.

Among commodities, Brent crude is trading at USD84.32 per barrel from USD84.33 per barrel on Thursday. Gold, on the other hand, trades at USD2,366 an ounce from USD2,312.69 an ounce on Thursday night.

On Friday's macroeconomic calendar, Italian industrial production will be released at 1000 CEST, one hour before industrial sales. At 1330 CEST, room for the European Central Bank minutes.

From the U.S., focus on Michigan consumer confidence, due at 1600 CEST, and Baker Hughes data on mining plants in the U.S.

Among the companies in the Piazza Affari, results from Alerion Clean Power, De' Longhi, DiaSorin, Iveco Group and Unieuro, among others, are expected.

By Maurizio Carta, Alliance News reporter

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