European Stocks May Follow Asian, US Peers Higher

European markets may follow their Asian peers higher on Friday after a strong session in Wall Street that reflected solid corporate earnings and renewed expectations for tax cuts and fiscal stimulus from the Trump administration.

Investors are optimistic despite ongoing geopolitical worries. The Wall Street gains accelerated late in the session Thursday after the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration planned to release the promised major tax reform plan “very soon”.

Investors will continue to keep an eye on developments in France ahead of the start of the French presidential election. It is still unclear which two of the four top candidates will qualify for the final election on May 7, while a Harris Interactive poll signaled a win for centrist Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s first-round presidential election, helping boost market confidence.

Meanwhile, market participants will be concerned over Thursday night’s suspected terrorist attack in which a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded just days before the presidential election.

In Asia, the Japanese market is notably higher, with the positive lead from Wall Street and a weaker yen helping support underlying sentiment.

A latest survey from Nikkei showed the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in April, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.8, up from 52.4 in March.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index was up 204.07 points or 1.11 percent to 18,634.56. The major exporters were advancing on a weaker yen.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index added 37.60 points or 0.65 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.8 percent. Other Asian markets also were generally higher.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 109 yen-range.

On Wall Street, stocks closed on a positive note overnight after strong earnings news and tax comments from Mnuchin. The Dow advanced 174.22 points or 0.9 percent to 20,578.71, the Nasdaq jumped 53.74 points or 0.9 percent to record closing high of 5,916.78 and the S&P 500 climbed 17.67 points or 0.8 percent to 2,355.84.

The major European markets finished broadly higher on Thursday, led by shares in France. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up 74.18 points or 1.5 percent to 5,077.91, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index grew 4.18 points or 0.06 percent to 7,118.54 and the German DAX Index grew 10.87 points or 0.09 percent to 12,027.32.

In corporate news, Germany’s Software AG reported lower first-quarter profit with weak turnover and confirmed its forecast for fiscal year 2017, expecting a high operating profit margin of 30.5 to 31.5 percent. UK Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser plc reported higher first-quarter revenues in line with expectations and said it remains on track to achieve full-year net revenue target.

Among commodities, U.S. West Texas Intermediate or WTI Crude futures were trading 0.14 percent higher at $50.78 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold traded down 0.19 percent at $1,281.40 per…

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