Europe closes higher amid political, trade concerns; Nex Group jumps 30.3%

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 provisionally ended 0.22 percent higher, with sectors pointing in different directions by the market close.
  • Britain's Nex Group surged to the top of the European benchmark after the company said it had received an approach from one of the world's largest exchange groups, CME Group.
  • Euro zone consumer prices grew less than expected in February. The bloc saw inflation at 0.2 percent month-on-month and 1.1 percent year-on-year.

European stocks finished Friday's session in the black, as investors tried to shake off concerns surrounding trade and political disruption in the White House.

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IBEX 35
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The pan-European STOXX 600 provisionally ended 0.22 percent higher, with sectors pointing in different directions by the market close. On the week, the STOXX 600 finished slightly under pressure, closing down 0.14 percent.

Britain's FTSE 100 closed up 0.34 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.29 percent and Germany's DAX 0.36 percent. The German index opened late on Friday morning as Eurex reported the index had experienced delays.

Oil stocks, Nex Group shares get a boost

Oil and gas was the strongest performing industry, with the sector closing up 1.46 percent on the back of a sharp rise in oil prices. At the market close, Brent traded at $65.93, while U.S. crude hovered around $62.17. In the sector, OMV rose over 4 percent after announcing Thursday that it had acquired Shell's upstream assets in New Zealand.

Europe's financial services sector got a boost amid takeover news. Britain's Nex Group surged to the top of the European benchmark after the company said it had received an approach from one of the world's largest exchange groups, CME Group. The move, which could create a transatlantic trading powerhouse, sent shares to close up 30.35 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Berkeley Group announced that it could not boost house building volumes beyond its current plans. It cited planning constraints and government changes in recent years in making buying a property less attractive to people. Shares of the U.K. builder fell over 5 percent.

Home improvement retailer Kingfisher fell 2 percent after the group announced that Non-Executive Director Andrew Bonfield had notified the board of his intention to step down from the company's board.

Chemicals group Linde slipped 3.5 percent after it announced Thursday that the European Commission had suspended its review of the company's merger with Praxair, while it awaits details. The sector slipped 0.62 percent, making it the worst performing industry.

Polymetal fell 3.48 percent after Jefferies cut its price target on the stock. At the bottom of the STOXX 600 was Nordea, which fell 8.3 percent. Friday marked the day of its ex-dividend date.

White House disruption

In Asia, equities finished the session relatively mixed amid heightened fears of a global trade war. U.S. stocks posted solid gains around Europe's market close, although market movements suggested they were heading for a loss on the week.

On Thursday, a report from the New York Times suggested that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had issued a subpoena for documents linked to President Donald Trump's businesses. Meanwhile, the U.S. president has decided to oust H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor, according to a Washington Post report. The White House has however denied that there are changes coming to the National Security Council.

The Russian ruble hit a one-month low against the dollar Friday, amid escalating tensions between the Kremlin and the West and an election in Russia on Sunday. The Moscow exchange closed higher Friday, however.

Euro zone consumer prices grew less than expected in February. The bloc of 19 countries sharing the single currency saw inflation at 0.2 percent month-on-month and 1.1 percent year-on-year, according to data published by Eurostat.

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