Europe ends slightly higher, boosted by a strong Wall Street session; GKN rises 26%

Key Points
  • The Dow Jones industrial average rose some 200 points by Europe's close, following better-than-expected earnings from J.P. Morgan Chase, BlackRock and Wells Fargo
  • The euro and British pound both traded sharply higher against the dollar, during Friday's trade
  • Puma shares slide after Kering decides to distribute 70 percent of its shares

European stocks ended in positive territory on Friday, as investors digested new earnings, data and a political breakthrough in Germany.

The pan-European STOXX 600 finished up 0.31 percent provisionally, with the majority of Europe's sectors closing in the black. On the week, the STOXX 600 ended on a positive note, up 0.29 percent.

Sentiment was boosted with German coalition party leaders reaching a breakthrough in preliminary talks to form a new government.

Germany's DAX ended up 0.32 percent, while the euro also rose against the U.S. dollar on the back of the news. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent while France's CAC 40 popped 0.52 percent.

Stocks were also boosted by trade seen stateside. The Dow Jones industrial average had risen some 200 points by the European market close, as investors bet on a strong corporate earnings season. J.P. Morgan Chase, BlackRock and Wells Fargo all reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

Autos speed ahead

Autos was Europe's top-performing sector Friday, closing up 1.24 percent, boosted by British multinational automotive firm GKN, which soared more than 26 percent after it rejected an acquisition proposal. German automakers Volkswagen and Porsche also posted solid gains.

Retail stocks closed up 1 percent as a sector, with Portuguese firm Jeronimo Martins leading the pack, along with B&M European Value and Ocado. The stock jumped 4.4 percent after announcing its latest sales figures, which were pushed higher by its Polish subsidiary.

Sticking with the sector, Carrefour closed up 1.74 percent after investors welcomed the retailer's acquisition of a stake in, an online fashion retailer. According to Reuters, analysts said Friday that they wanted Carrefour to do more digital deals in the future.

Euro-dollar trade has gone too far: Aberdeen Standard

In individual stock news, luxury group Kering announced that it wants to distribute 70 percent of its Puma shares to investors, according to Reuters. The news led German-listed Puma shares to drop more than 5.5 percent, while Kering ended just above the flatline.

Currencies on the move

In the currency markets, the British pound skyrocketed Friday afternoon, up 1 percent against the U.S. dollar at $1.3677, around the market close at 4:30 p.m. London time. The move comes after Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the situation, that the Netherlands and Spain are open to a softer Brexit deal for Britain.

In terms of data, inflation numbers in Spain reached their lowest level since November 2016. In France, prices edged up slightly in December compared to the previous month.