European markets close slightly higher; Sage down 8%

European equities closed marginally higher Friday afternoon. The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.12 percent up with all major bourses above the flat line, although business sectors revealed a mixed bag.

Basic resources was easily the top gainer mid-afternoon, closing around 1.4 percent higher. Stora Enso rose during the final hours of trading to finish 3.6 percent in the green after reporting higher-than-expected first-quarter profits.

Retail was the worst performing sector, dropping during late deals to close 0.8 percent to the downside. British stationer WHSmith dragged the sector lower and closed 6.5 percent down. The firm reported a 1 percent drop in interim pre-tax profit for the six months to February 28 earlier this week as the U.K. retail space remains under pressure.

Tech stocks closed slightly lower, down by 0.17 percent. Sage was easily the sector’s worst performer. The British software company closed the week 8.2 percent in the red after it issued a profit warning.

Looking across the index, shares of the European shopping center landlord Klepierre hit the top spot for most of the day — ultimately closing fourth, up 3.6 percent — after it stepped back from buying Hammerson. The latter closed 9 percent lower, foundering at the bottom of the benchmark. Meanwhile, Intu, another shopping center real estate company, topped the index to close 4.2 percent up. Hammerson is now clear to press ahead with a takeover, which could create the U.K.’s largest property company, according to the Guardian.

Volkswagen has appointed a new chief executive, Herbert Diess, as the company moved ahead with its overhaul plan. The shares closed 0.4 percent higher.

Meanwhile, a joint venture between Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel will be delayed, Reuters reported, so labor agreements can be concluded.

Media reports also said that U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a stake in Micro Focus. The stock closed 3.2 percent to the upside.

U.S. stocks traded lower on Friday as bank shares gave up their initial gains. The major averages were still on track to post strong weekly gains, however.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 124 points, with J.P. Morgan Chase as the worst-performing stock in the index. The S&P 500 declined 0.4 percent as financials dropped 1.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite pulled back 0.6 percent.

Citigroup, Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase all reported quarterly earnings and revenue that surpassed analyst expectations. Bank shares initially traded higher before falling more than 2.5 percent, as the strong results were already priced in.

Overall, market sentiment was slightly calmer from previous sessions as geopolitical concerns eased. President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he had never said an attack on Syria would be imminent. “Could be soon or not soon at all,” Trump said. Source: CNBC