European stocks were little changed, posting their biggest weekly gain since mid-April.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 407.74 at the close of trading in London, trimming a decline of as much as 0.4 percent. Vodafone Group Plc rose the most, completing its biggest three-day jump since September 2013, while Greece’s Alpha Bank AE and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA fell more than 3 percent.
The European stock index has climbed 2.9 percent this week as Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said the European Central Bank will increase bond buying in May and June.
“It remains constructive, but we haven’t seen triggers that would take the market higher,” said Otto Waser, chief investment officer at R&A Research & Asset Management AG in Zurich. “The market took positive the ECB frontloading of its bond purchases. The fact that they announced the frontloading was interpreted as a reminder that QE is safe and well.”
The Stoxx 600 has jumped 19 percent this year, helped by the ECB’s quantitative-easing program that dragged the euro lower. The index earlier fell as the currency strengthened against the dollar before reversing the move after a gauge of U.S. consumer prices topped forecasts.
The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands was 28 percent lower than the 30-day average. Stock markets including the U.K. and Switzerland will be closed on Monday.
Vodafone gained 4.6 percent, taking its three-day gain to 12 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the company may sell some assets after a meeting with the carrier’s management.
The move helped push the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index up 0.3 percent. Benchmark stock gauges for Spain and Germany fell 0.4 percent, while Greece’s ASE Index lost 0.7 percent after reaching its highest level since March earlier this week. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble raised the possibility that Greece may need a parallel currency alongside the euro if the country’s talks with creditors fail, people familiar with his views said.
Bouygues SA and Orange SA lost more than 1.5 percent as the French economy minister told Les Echos now is not the time for industry consolidation in the nation. Areva SA declined 1.7 percent after a report that Engie won’t buy the French builder of atomic plants.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA fell 1 percent after the maker of Cartier jewelry and Montblanc pens reported an unexpected decline in April sales. Swatch Group AG lost 3.1 percent, and France’s Kering SA dropped 2 percent.