European stocks gained on Friday as investors awaited further stimulus and vaccine news, while bitcoin slipped back from record highs to below US$48,000.
In equities, Paris posted gains of 0.6 percent and London 0.9 heading into the weekend, although Frankfurt was near flat at the close.
Markets around the world are “remaining buoyed by the recent rally that has been fueled by COVID-19 vaccine rollout progress and elevated expectations that the US will deliver further fiscal relief,” Charles Schwab Corp analysts commented.
Equities have rallied this year on the back of vaccine rollouts, falling infection and death rates, and optimism that US President Joe Biden will push through his US$1.9 trillion stimulus package.
However, London sentiment was dented on Friday by news that the coronavirus-ravaged UK economy shrank by a record 9.9 percent last year, despite an upturn in the second half.
Bitcoin had touched a new high of US$48,930 in Asian trade after MasterCard Inc and US bank Band of New York Mellon Corp moved on Thursday to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency, only to trade over US$1,000 lower around 5pm GMT on Friday.
“Bitcoin had a great week” thanks in part to the institutional backing, Oanda Corp senior analyst Ed Moya said, but “the key for bitcoin’s path higher is to win over more corporate endorsements.”
AxiCorp Financial Services Pty analyst Stephen Innes said that the earnings season has gone well in the US and Europe, although “investors need some good old proof in the economic pudding before taking that next leap of faith.”
Elsewhere, oil prices were on the up even as uncertainty persists over how far demand will recover from last year’s plunge.
With most of Asia closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, business was limited. Tokyo and Wellington both fell, while Sydney was also hit by news of snap virus lockdown in Melbourne.