European stocks close higher as US-China trade talks end; Fed's Powell speaks at Jackson Hole

Key Points
  • Trade talks between the U.S. and China ended without any progress Thursday.
  • German data showed that all sectors of its economy grew in the second quarter.
  • Fed Chair Powell said he expected further rate hikes if the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

European stocks closed higher Friday following the conclusion of U.S.-China trade talks and a key speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index traded 0.1 percent higher, with most sectors in the black. Basic resources — with their heavy exposure to China — were the best performers. This comes despite trade talks between the U.S. and China ending without any progress Thursday, the same day that new tariffs on each other's economies came into force.

Looking at individual stocks, shares of Irish building materials firm Kingspan rose almost 10 percent, to the top of the European benchmark, after the building materials firm reported a rise in trading profits for its first half and gave a positive outlook for the rest of the year.

And German chemicals firm Wacker Chemie was among the top performers across the continent after HSBC upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold," and raised its price target to 150 euros ($174) from 130 euros. Shares closed up 3.37 percent.

New data for Germany showed that all sectors of its economy grew in the second quarter, confirming earlier figures of a robust uptick. In the U.K., mortgage approval numbers fell on the year with consumer credit also slowing.

On Wall Street, stocks began the last trading day of the week higher, following a week of strong corporate results and economic data. The Nasdaq notched a record high, lifted by gains from Netflix and Facebook.

Fed Chair Powell delivered a speech to attendees at the Jackson Hole Symposium in Wyoming, where central bankers are meeting to discuss the future of monetary policy and the changing market structure. The address comes after recent comments from President Donald Trump that he was "not thrilled" with the central bank's raising of interest rates.

Powell said he expected "further gradual" rate hikes if the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

Back in Europe, minutes from the last European Central Bank meeting showed protectionism and a global trade war are the biggest risks to the euro zone growth.