FTSE closes at 1-month high; banks, miners support and Buyer states made EADS final A400M offer -Germany

Firmer banks, defensive stocks and energy firms outweighed some weakness from miners to push Britain’s top share index into positive territory for the fifth consecutive session by the close on Friday. The FTSE 100 .FTSE ended up 33.08 points or 0.6 percent at 5,358.17, its highest close for a month, adding to a 0.9 percent gain on Thursday. Supporting the index, Wall Street recovered from early weakness following an unexpected increase in the Federal Reserve discount rate overnight, which sparked some concern that the U.S. central bank’s easy monetary policy might be starting to turn. “The market has reacted in a grown up way to the action from the Fed,” said Andrew Bell, chief executive of Witan Investment Trust. “They are seeing it as a positive sign that the authorities seem to be moving away from emergency measures and taking it as a sign that things are returning to normal,” he said. [Read the full article]

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Buyer nations presented a final offer for the A400M military transporter plane to Airbus parent EADS (EAD.PA) on Friday, a German defence ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman also said buyer states are ready to accept a cost increase of 2 billion euros for the transporter and to offer export guarantees of 1.5 billion euros. However, they reject any new negotiations on financial or technical matters.

The Federal Reserve on Friday poured more cold water on speculation that a surprise hike to its emergency lending rate signaled a change in monetary policy, saying borrowing costs in the economy would remain low. [Read the full article]

President Barack Obama will not submit a free trade agreement with South Korea to Congress for a vote until Seoul does more to open its auto market, the top U.S. trade official said on Friday. “I know there is concern, especially in this part of the country, about the U.S.-Korea FTA,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. “We have let Korea know that we will have to work together so we can show the American people that U.S. cars will be able to compete on a level playing field in Korea,” Kirk said. The speech showed how little progress the administration has made toward resolving differences with South Korea since Obama took office over one year ago. “Given the history of Korean protectionism in the auto sector, there are questions about whether the FTA will establish a level playing field for U.S. automakers and automotive workers,” Kirk said. [Read the full article]

European shares hit a three-week closing high on Friday, rising for the fifth straight session, as policymakers and economic data calmed speculation that the U.S. central bank could retreat from its easy money policy. The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares closed 0.4 percent higher at 1,026.05 points, the highest closing level since Feb. 2. The index has risen 4 percent this week, its best weekly gain since late July 2009. The U.S. Federal Reserve raised the discount rate to 0.75 percent from 0.5 percent, but officials moved to calm speculation that a surprise rise in its emergency lending rate could bring forward broader policy tightening, saying borrowing costs in the economy would stay low. [ID:nSGE61I036] European banks recovered some earlier losses, with Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) up 1.3 to 1.9 percent. Data showed U.S. [Read the full article]

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