Europe closes higher as S&P hits record; STOXX 600 up 2% for the quarter; VW shares slip

Big 5
European stocks closed higher on Friday afternoon, on the last trading day of the quarter, amid improved global sentiment and new data releases.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.36 percent higher provisionally, with gains accelerating during the day and most sectors finishing in positive territory. For the week it finished up 1 percent and saw a mild climb of over 2 percent for the whole quarter.

Household goods and basic resources were the best performing sectors Friday while U.K. house builders also rose, supported by ratings upgrades. Persimmon shares rose 2 percent.

Volkswagen said that its third-quarter operating result was hit by a 2.5 billion euro ($2.95 billion) burden related to increasing settlement provisions. The stock fell sharply on Friday but clawed back some losses towards the session close.

In the U.S. on Friday, the S&P 500 climbed to a record, helped by gains in technology stocks on the last trading day of the quarter.

Back in Europe, investors also monitored inflation numbers from across the euro zone. Preliminary numbers in France showed inflation slightly higher in September at 1.1 percent year-on-year.

In Italy, consumer prices rose 1.8 percent on the month, but annual inflation slowed to 1.3 percent from 1.4 percent in the previous month. For the entire euro zone, inflation data came in below expectations at 1.5 percent in September. Such a number is still below the European Central Bank’s (ECB) target of close to but below 2 percent.

Retail sales in Germany came in lower-than-expected in August, down by 0.4 percent on the month, the national statistics office said. Meanwhile, U.K. consumer confidence grew by one point in September, a GfK survey showed Friday, after having fallen two points in the previous month.

House prices in London dropped for the first time since 2009, Nationwide figures revealed. At the same time, prices across Britain rose at their slowest pace for the last four years.

Rovio, the maker of angry birds, hit 12.0 euros a share early on Friday on its market debut at the Finnish stock exchange. Its IPO price was 11.5 euros per share, at the top of its price range. Source: CNBC