Volkswagen a bright spot as concern lingers about euro zone economy

Markets across Europe and Asia were inching higher Friday, although continued concern about the euro zone economy and spiking oil prices continued to weigh on investors.

London’s FTSE climbed 0.14%, with the German DAX rising 0.90% and the French CAC 40 appreciating 0.63% in morning trading. The euro and British pound both rebounded 0.37% to $1.3422 and $1.5803, respectively.

Among stocks to watch today, Volkswagen (VLKAYquote) reported annual profits in 2011 skyrocketed 119% to $21.2 billion compared to 2010. The company produced 8.2 million vehicles last year, up 15% from 2010. Shares of Volkswagen rose 0.12% in Germany and are indicated higher today in New York.

Overnight in Australia, stocks (EWAquote) rose 0.49%.

Following the recent move from Standard & Poor’s, Fitch cut its ratings of Australia’s top three banks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation, citing decreased confidence in them because of their reliance on offshore funding markets.

Shares of the banks, however, rose 0.36%, 1.34% and 0.58%, respectively.

Japan’s Nikkei index (EWJquote) closed up 0.54% and in Seoul, the KOSPI (EWYquote) got a lift of 0.60%.

Meanwhile, in Singapore shares (EWS, quote) climbed 0.33%, while Chinese stocks (YAOquote)  got a boost of 1.25%.

The Chinese yuan dipped 0.01% to 6.2976 to the dollar, while the Japanese yen — already considered too strong in many circles — appreciated another 0.65% to 80.51 against the greenback.

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