Europe Markets

European stocks ends higher as investors eye ECB 'tapering'; BMPS plummets 10%; Sky rockets up 26%

European stocks closed higher on Friday afternoon as investors digested the European Central Bank's (ECB) announcement to extend it's bond buying program - albeit at a reduced pace of monthly asset purchases.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.97 percent higher on Friday with almost all sectors in positive territory.

Despite the ECB's announcement of further stimulus, bank stocks were down 0.69 percent at the close. After earlier gains in the week, shares of Italian banks dropped on Friday. Unicredit ended down 2.34 percent on what one trader told Reuters was profit-taking after several days of strong gains.

Shares of Monte dei Paschi plummeted 10 percent lower after reports that the ECB had rejected its request for further time to implement a 5 billion euro ($5.4 billion) recapitalization process. This could put pressure on the Italian authorities to rescue the stricken lender.

Sky PLC shares surged on Friday after the British broadcaster was approached with a possible takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Centruy Fox. Reuters reported the bid to be in the region of $23.23 billion. Shares jumped 30 percent higher immediately after the news before retreating slightly to close more than 26 percent in positive territory.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average continued higher and the Nasdaq hit a record high after a remarkable post-election rally continued.

Media stocks surge

Insurance stocks closed 0.4 percent lower. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published Friday proposals for rules and guidance on payment protection insurance complaints (PPI).

Media stocks were the best performers, jumping 4.57 percent, which was, in large part, attributed to Fox's takeover approach to Sky PLC.

In Italy, President Mattarella was reported to be consulting with political parties to find a solution to overcome the ongoing political crisis.

U.K. regulators are set to summon Citigroup officials as they investigate a "flash crash" in sterling last October, the Financial Times reported.

OPEC and non-OPEC members are gathering on Saturday to discuss a plan to revamp oil prices. Only five out of 14 non-OPEC members have confirmed their attendance so far.

Germany reported a 4.1 percent contraction in exports in October. Imports dropped 2.2 percent. As a result, Germany's trade surplus moved from 24.4 billion euros ($25.94 billion) to 19.3 billion euros.

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