European stocks close higher after US-EU trade gathering and ECB meeting

Key Points
  • President Trump agreed to put tariffs on Europe aside while both sides of the Atlantic work to reduce their trade differences.
  • The European Central Bank decided to keep interest rates on hold.
  • Facebook shed nearly 20 percent in value after earnings report.

European markets closed higher Thursday, as concerns over rising trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe showed signs of easing.

The pan-European closed provisionally 0.87 percent higher with almost every sector in positive territory. The German DAX was the best performing market, up by 1.83 percent. Autos stocks were the best performers, up 2.58 percent. This followed news that while both sides of the Atlantic are to work to reduce their trade differences.

On Wednesday, Trump announced that the U.S. and the European Union had initiated a "new phase" within their relationship. "We agreed today, first of all, to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies for the non-auto industrial goods," Trump said at a press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Furthermore, market sentiment was also impacted by earnings and corporate news. Elis rose to the top of the European benchmark, up by 12.68 percent, after announcing the acquisition of Kings Laundry.

Airbus rose 4.5 percent after reporting that its second-quarter profit more than doubled. CEO Tom Enders said that he was not seeking a merger of the combat jet activities with BAE Systems.

At the other end, shares of British shopping center operator Intu Properties hit an all-time low after the company warned of lower full-year rental growth. Intu Chief Executive David Fischel will step down once a successor has been appointed, the company said in a statement Thursday. Shares plummeted 8.308 percent.

And U.K. manufacturing firm Cobham's share price fell to the bottom of the European benchmark after it said Boeing is withholding payment over the troubled KC-46 aerial refueling program. The firm said it would take a £40 million ($52.6 million) hit due to delays to the program, sending the stock down 9.878 percent.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq composite and S&P 500 fell as investors digested disappointing earnings from Facebook. The social media giant's revenues appeared to take a hit from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The stock is flirting with bear market territory — nearly 20 percent off its 52-week high.

ECB meeting

The European Central Bank has decided to keep interest rates on hold. The euro moved slightly lower against the dollar following the decision. ECB President Mario Draghi said at a press conference following the decision that the euro area economy would continue to need "significant monetary policy stimulus." The bank last month announced it would unwind its massive bond-buying program.