European markets close higher; Wall Street hits record highs; Actelion shares jump 16%

European stocks closed slightly higher Friday amid low liquidity as a result of a shortened session on Wall Street after the Thanksgiving holiday.


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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.18 percent higher.

Sectors were mixed, however Healthcare stocks ended the trading week 1.35 percent in positive territory. This was due, in large part, to Swiss drugmaker, Actelion releasing a statement confirming reports that Johnson & Johnson have made contact about a possible transaction.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 both hit record highs on Black Friday, boosted by gains in consumer stocks at the start of an intensive holiday season. All New York Stock Exchanges (NYSE) are set to close early at 1pm ET on the day after Thanksgiving.

Friday half day

Meanwhile, the European Union is considering a "post-Brexit transition deal" once Prime Minister Theresa May invokes "Article 50". According to Sky News, the EU wants a three-tier approach for the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

On the data front, the Office for National Statistics confirmed a gross domestic product (GDP) reading of 0.5 percent for the U.K. in the third quarter of this year.

Actelion shares jump 16%

Banking stocks were also among the worst performers on Friday. Italian banks were heading the losses at the open but pared losses. Shares of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena were suspended even after the approval of a 5 billion euro ($5.29 billion) capital increase.

Goldman Sachs has re-rated the U.K. banking sector. It increased its price targets on RBS, Virgin Money, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group. The European Central Bank has said that the banking system in the euro area is pulling apart, which increases risks.

Health care stocks were among the top performers, going up by more than 1.4 percent. The U.S. company Johnson & Johnson is considering a potential takeover of the Swiss biotech firm Actelion and, as a result, shares soared more than 16.7 percent.

Oil dragged lower

Oil prices fell more than 3 percent Friday after being dragged down by uncertainty that OPEC would reach a deal to cut production.

Saudi Arabia announced it will not attend talks on Monday with non-OPEC producers to discuss supply cuts, Reuters reported.

Brent crude was trading around $47.43 a barrel, down 3.22 percent at the European close, while WTI crude was selling at $46.46 a barrel, down 3.13 percent.

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