European markets advance as U.S.-China trade relief rally continues

European markets closed higher on Friday as the recent rally on the back of U.S.-China trade progress looked set to continue into the holiday season.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally climbed 0.72 percent by the closing bell, with chemicals,  and food and beverages leading gains. All sectors except banks and autos traded in positive territory.

Investors worldwide have seemed content to take the substantial gains generated by positive news on U.S.-China trade over the past month heading into the festive period.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the U.S. and China would sign their so-called phase one trade accord early in January following a technical scrub.

Earlier, Asian stocks ended mixed Friday despite Wall Street reaching new record highs in the U.S. on Thursday.

Back in the U.K, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Chief Executive Andrew Bailey has been named the new governor of the Bank of England, replacing the departing Mark Carney.

On the data front, U.K. third-quarter GDP (gross domestic product) grew by 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter and 1.1 percent from the same period last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The FTSE 100 in London failed to make any gains but maintained its opening position to close at around 7577. Sterling moved slightly firmer after British lawmakers approved the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the House of Commons, clearing another hurdle for Britain’s EU exit at the end of January.

Meanwhile Germany’s DIW economic institute said on Friday that Europe’s largest economy most likely contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

Stocks on the move

Cruise ship operator Carnival topped the FTSE and Stoxx 600 after its profit and revenue beat for the quarter. The firm also forecasted a 2020 profit that bettered previous estimates. Shares rose 7.2 percent.

At the other end of the European benchmark, NMC Health shares tumbled around 16 percent to mark a fourth straight day of losses after short-seller Muddy Waters revealed it was holding a short position on the stock. According to Reuters the firm lost around £2 billion in market value Friday.

Source: CNBC

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