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​Slack eurozone growth keeps global stocks in check

LONDON - Slightly disappointing European growth figures, notably out of France and Italy, weighed on stock markets Friday, while oil prices sank to their lowest level since early 2009.

In Europe, as of 8:15 a.m. ET, Germany's DAX was down 0.5 percent to 10,963, while the CAC-40 in France fell 0.6 percent to 4,958. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.1 percent lower at 6,562. Wall Street was poised for a subdued opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Figures from The European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, showed that economic growth across the region was 0.3 percent, down slightly from the 0.4 percent recorded in the first three months of the year and half the rate recorded in the U.S. As has been the case for much of the past few years during the eurozone's crisis over too much government debt, growth remains heavily reliant on the region's powerhouse economy, Germany.

France and Italy were the main disappointments in the figures, though the German data were somewhat underwhelming when exports were taken out.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex, said the figures "merely served to compound the current lack of appetite for risk and caused the DAX and CAC to lose their tentative gains in the process."

Greek lawmakers approved their country's draft third bailout after a nearly 24-hour marathon parliamentary procedure culminated in a vote that saw the government coalition suffer significant dissent. The government needed the bill to pass in time for Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos to head to Brussels to meet his eurozone counterparts, who will decide Friday afternoon whether to approve the draft agreement.

Greece needs the around 85 billion euros ($93 billion) on offer from the three-year bailout in order to avoid defaulting on its debts and potentially leaving the euro.

The main topic of interest in financial markets this week has been the sharp fall in China's currency, the yuan. On Friday, the dollar was buying 6.3901 yuan, little changed from the previous change after Zhang Xiaohu, a deputy governor at People's Bank of China, said there is "no basis for persistent and substantial devaluation."

Zhang said the yuan is close to "market levels" after two days of declines. The yuan fell about 3 percent this week, beginning its slide on Tuesday after a surprise change in exchange rate policy, which roiled global financial markets and caused Asian stocks and currencies to tumble. Beijing said the change was aimed at making the tightly controlled currency more market-oriented.

In Asian trading on Friday, Japan's Nikkei 225 finished 0.4 percent lower at 20,519.45, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1 percent at 23,991.03. China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,965.33 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 percent to 5,356.50. Financial markets in South Korea were closed for a holiday.

The price of crude oil hit its lowest level in 6½ years Friday amid concerns over a slowing economy in China, a huge energy consumer, and strong global production. The U.S. crude contract fell as low as $41.35 a barrel, the weakest level since early 2009, when the global economy was in the throes of a massive financial crisis and recession.

By late morning in Europe, the price was around $42 a barrel. The oil contract has been declining since touching a high of $61.43 on June 10. The main reasons are big increases in production in the U.S. and Canada, as well as expectations Iran's oil could soon return to the market.

The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.1178 while the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 124.12 yen.