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European markets close mixed following US earnings; Skanska sinks 6.15%

  • French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump celebrate Bastille Day
  • Major banks Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo report second-quarter results
  • ECB to keep asset purchasing program open ended, according to three sources familiar with the central bank

European stock markets closed mixed Friday as investors digested earnings reports from Wall Street banks and monitored developments from a meeting between the French and U.S. presidents.

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IBEX 35
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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day slightly higher, with sectors in mixed territory. Friday marked the official start of U.S. earning season, which drove major European bourses down from a positive morning to close in the red. The FTSE was unchanged for the week, while the German Dax and the French CAC were up by around a percent.

Wall Street moved higher following the release of data from major banks Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The three banks beat market expectations, however, the banking sector in Europe slumped on the news.

Also down Friday was the construction and materials sector. Swedish construction group Skanska moved close to the bottom of the European benchmark, down 6.15 percent, after announcing it is writing down the value of projects in the U.S. and the U.K.

The health care firm AstraZeneca continued its fall Friday after registering losses on Thursday on uncertainty regarding its CEO. Some media reports indicated that he could be leaving the firm and joining another drug maker. However, Norwegian insurer Gjensidige was ultimately the worst-performer on the European benchmark, closing down 6.8 percent after reporting second-quarter earnings that were below forecast.

On the other end, basic resources were among the top gainers. The sector closed up 1.23 percent, with Anglo American near the top of the European benchmark.

Sky shares drop, Dixons Carphone sells Spanish business

Looking at individual stocks, EasyJet announced that it is setting up easyJet Europe in Austria to protect its flying rights once the U.K. leaves the European Union. It shares closed slightly lower.

Sky dropped on Friday after news that Rupert Murdoch is unlikely to offer any new concessions to ensure editorial freedom of the media company as it tries to merge it with Fox.

Meanwhile, U.K. retailer Dixons Carphone said it sold its Spanish business for 55 million euros ($62.77 million). Its shares fell 1.7 percent.

Hays, the U.K.'s biggest recruiter by market capitalization, announced it sees profits beating market expectations in 2017, despite suffering a 5 percent drop in fee growth. Its shares were up by 2.3 percent in morning deals before shifting up to the flatline by the end of the day.

Macron and Trump

Macron and Trump celebrated Bastille Day on Friday in a meeting that was expected to reset the relationship between the two leaders after it got off to a frosty start earlier this year. During a joint news conference Thursday, Trump hinted that "something could happen" to change his decision in June to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. Trump also said that he and Macron had discussed increasing security cooperation.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is keen on keeping its asset purchase program opened ended, three sources told Reuters, rather than putting a definite date on when bond-buying will stop.

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