Europe ends on a high note as investors brush off trade dispute

  • The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.42 percent at the close, while France's CAC 40 popped 0.56 percent and Germany's DAX saw gains of 0.5 percent. Most markets in peripheral Europe closed higher.
  • Danske Bank fell 3.35 percent after the Danish lender's CEO resigned following allegations that billions of euros were laundered through the bank's Estonian branch.

European stocks ended Wednesday's session relatively upbeat, as investors shook off concerns surrounding escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

The STOXX 600 index closed up 0.33 percent, with major sectors pointing in different directions by the end of trade. Basic resources surpassed fellow sectors, while utilities dropped over 1 percent.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.42 percent at the close, while France's CAC 40 popped 0.56 percent and Germany's DAX saw gains of 0.5 percent. Most markets in peripheral Europe closed higher.

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Sentiment in Europe appeared to be taking note from trading seen overseas during its session, with most U.S. stocks surging in Wall Street trade and Asian markets finishing their session mostly in the black. While market focus has been largely attuned to a rift between the U.S. and China as of late, that's not the only story that moved markets Wednesday.

Basic resources was the best performing group, soaring 3.13 percent by the close, lifted by a sharp rise in nickel and zinc prices. Among the sector's top performers were FTSE-listed mining stocks including Glencore, Antofagasta, Anglo American and BHP Billiton, which all closed up over 3 percent. Other sectors that posted sharp gains of more than 1 percent included autos, banks, chemicals and insurance.

In banking, however, Danske Bank fell 3.35 percent after the Danish lender's CEO resigned following allegations that billions of euros were laundered through the bank's Estonian branch. In autos, Schaeffler jumped 3 percent after it reconfirmed its guidance for the financial year of 2018.

In individual stock news, Linde shares surged 7.8 percent, after Reuters reported, citing a source, that the industrial gases firm was getting ready to sell extra assets to a consortium of Messer Group GmbH and CVC Capital Partners for around $200 million, moving it closer to U.S. antitrust approval for a planned merger with Praxair.

Kingfisher sank 6.3 percent, after the home improvement firm reported a 15 percent fall in half year profits. Adecco dropped 6.2 percent after the staffing group indicated a slowdown in European hiring growth, in its latest strategic update.

Finally, the European Union has ruled that McDonald's did not receive selective tax treatment from the tiny European country of Luxembourg. The EU said the tax deal was not illegal but rather a result of a mismatch between US and Luxembourg tax laws.

Tit-for-tat trade war continues

On Monday, the U.S. administration announced that it would implement a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, which would increase to 25 percent by year-end. In response, China announced its own set of retaliatory tariffs, targeting over 5,000 U.S. products — worth about $60 billion, which would go into effect next week. The country has also filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the U.S.

Meanwhile, President Trump appeared to leave the door open for negotiations with China, telling reporters during a visit with Poland's president that the U.S. may make a deal at some point with China and that his country is always open to talking.

Elsewhere, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss denuclearisation appears to have been successful. North Korea has agreed to "permanently" abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday, Reuters reported.

In Brexit news, European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday that the U.K. must rework its submissions for trade and Northern Ireland. Speaking at a news conference, Tusk said that U.K. exit negotiations were entering "their decisive phase," according to Reuters.

"Various scenarios are still possible today but I'd like to stress that some of Prime Minister (Theresa) May's proposals from Chequers indicated positive evolution in the UK's approach," Tusk said.

British inflation hit a six-month high in August, boosted by larger-than-usual seasonal increases in transport fares and higher theater admission prices, data by the Office for National Statistics showed.

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