European stocks close higher as US-China trade talks wrap up

Big 5

European stocks closed slightly higher Friday afternoon, as market participants monitored trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by around 0.3 percent provisionally, with most sectors and major bourses ending in positive territory. On the week, the benchmark was up by around 0.6 percent.

Europe’s basic resources stocks — with their heavy exposure to China — led the gains during afternoon trade, closing up by around 2 percent. It comes as market focus is largely attuned to global trade negotiations, with little more than a week left before a U.S-imposed deadline for an agreement with China expires.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday. The meeting follows reports that both sides have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their protracted dispute.

Looking at individual stocks, France’s Sopra Steria Group surged to the top of the European benchmark. The consultancy group reported full-year revenue jumped almost 7 percent in 2018 and forecast a slight improvement in operating margin on business activity. Shares of the Paris-listed stock rose more than 17 percent on the news.

Meanwhile, Swedish radiation therapy equipment maker Elekta tumbled to the bottom of the index. The company posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter core profit on Friday, prompting shares to tank over 13 percent.

Economic data

On the data front, business morale in the euro zone’s largest economy fell for the sixth time in succession in February, official data showed on Friday. The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its business climate index for Germany slipped to 98.5 this month, its lowest level since December 2014.

On Wall Street, stocks rose with hopes building over the U.S.-China trade talks. Intel shares rose more than 2.5 percent in early deals after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight from equal weight.

Source: CNBC