by Ben PERRY
European stock markets climbed Friday before Donald Trump's inauguration, with markets hoping that the US president's speech will expand on his planned economic policy.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 was 0.1 percent higher around the half-way stage, supported by a weak pound boosting exporters' share prices and thanks to some positive Chinese data, traders said.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index won 0.3 percent and the Paris CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent compared with Thursday's closing levels.
"In focus today will be the inauguration of Donald Trump... with investors hoping that his speech comprehensively outlines his policy plans for the next four years," said Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken.
"Financial deregulation, infrastructure spending and tax reforms will be the key policy topics markets will be hoping receive some dedicated airtime."
While he promised a big-spending, tax-cutting drive to fuel the world's top economy, the tycoon has failed to provide any detail, leading to worries about his ability to deliver.
The dollar meanwhile recovered having slipped after Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen this week indicated that the US central bank would take a wait-and-see approach to monetary policy, suggesting any rate hikes this year could be slow.
The dollar has soared since November on bets Trump's fiscal policies would fan inflation and force the Fed to tighten borrowing costs.
- Chinese growth -
Ahead of Trump's big day, stocks won support from data showing that China's economy enjoyed its first growth pick-up in two years.
The Chinese economy expanded by 6.8 percent in the final quarter of last year, the first improvement since the end of 2014, figures released Friday showed.
While China's National Bureau of Statistics welcomed the data, it stressed that "the domestic and external conditions are still complicated and severe".
Elsewhere on Friday, the pound slid after official data showed British retail sales unexpectedly slumped 1.9 percent in December from the previous month, fuelling worries over Brexit.
"Sterling is taking a pasting after a pretty shoddy set of retail sales figures for December," noted ETX Capital senior market analyst Neil Wilson.
"The pound... dived below $1.23 immediately following the... numbers, which showed the fastest pace of sales decline in five years."
Sterling has endured a volatile week, slumping to three-month low points before and after British Prime Minister Theresa May fleshed out her plans for Britain exiting the European Union.
- Key figures around 1115 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,214.20 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 11,626.20
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 4,867.82
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,304.84
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 19,137.91 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,123.14 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 22,885.91 (close)
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 19,732.40 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0647 from $1.0665
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2287 from $1.2338
Dollar/yen: UP at 115.07 yen from 114.84 yen
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 58 cents at $51.95 per barrel
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 62 cents at $54.78