European shares clock sixth weekly gain on trade cheer

(Reuters) – European shares clocked a sixth-straight week of gains on Friday following record highs on Wall Street after bullish comments from a White House official on U.S.-China trade talks.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4%, close to four-year highs it hit last week, with most sectors ending in the black.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late on Thursday Washington and Beijing were getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called very constructive talks with Beijing about ending a 16-month trade war.

“Europe as a whole is a story of more optimism about a trade deal and the fact that Italy and Spain, which in the last couple of days had underperformed, are doing better,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.

European indices that see-sawed through the week on conflicting trade headlines, glum economic indicators, mixed corporate outlook and some rocky Spanish politics, managed to end the week marginally higher.

Trade-sensitive commodity-linked .SXPP and technology stocks .SX8P led gains on the day, while defensive plays like utilities .SX6P and telecom .SXKP lagged.

Chipmakers Infineon (IFXGn.DE), STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) and ASML Holding (ASML.AS) were all up on industry bellwether Applied Materials’ (AMAT.O) upbeat forecast for the first quarter in 2020.

A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) was the biggest climber in the STOXX 600 index after the world’s biggest container shipping firm said that despite an uncertain economic outlook, a focus on driving down costs put it on track to improve its profit margin.

A handful of disappointments among stocks listed in the Nordic region kept overall gains in check.

Swedish human care equipment maker Elekta (EKTAb.ST) dropped 11% after slashing its full-year outlook, while SEB (SEBa.ST) sank 12% after the lender said it had been informed a broadcaster would air a program on suspected money laundering that would include information concerning the bank.

Those falls flattened the Stockholm index .OMXSPI, while Norwegian shares .OSEAX fell 0.4%, hit by salmon producers Mowi (MOWI.OL) and SalMar (SALM.OL) after the companies said the U.S. Department of Justice had issued subpoenas.

News that Britain’s opposition Labour Party would nationalize parts of the telecoms provider BT’s (BT.L) network if it won power in the Dec. 12 election, hit other telecom peers and capped gains for the FTSE 100 .FTSE.

BT shares slid 1%, while Vodafone (VOD.L) dropped and TalkTalk (TALK.L) fell 3% each.

“We’ve been pointing out over the last few months that in UK equities there is a Brexit and a Corbyn discount because of the threat of nationalization, and they’ve become all too real with this becoming a part of the Labour manifesto,” said Andrea Cicione.

Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh, Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Bernard Orr and Elaine Hardcastle



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