Europe rises by the close as concerns over trade spats wane

  • Global markets appeared to shrug off concerns over the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.
  • The U.K.'s FTSE 100 jumped 0.49 percent by the close, despite an uptick in sterling, while France's CAC 40 soared 1.07 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.88 percent.
  • Most markets in peripheral Europe closed higher.

European stocks extended gains by Thursday's market close, tracing the strong session seen on Wall Street and shaking off anxieties of a trade war between the U.S. and China.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up 0.7 percent, with all sectors, except travel and health care, posting solid gains by the finish.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 jumped 0.49 percent by the close, despite an uptick in sterling, while France's CAC 40 soared 1.07 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.88 percent. Most markets in peripheral Europe closed higher.

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Looking across Europe, many sectors posted overall gains of more than 1 percent by the close, including insurance, banks and basic resources. Autos which was the top performing group, closing up 1.71 percent, and that sector's top gainer was Schaeffler, which closed up 6.33 percent, at the top of the STOXX 600.

In banks, Danske Bank rose close to the top of the pan-European index, up 4.7 percent, after UBS said the Danish lender's shares were still appealing from a valuation perspective, despite a money laundering scandal surrounding its Estonian branch. Denmark's financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, said Thursday it was reopening an investigation into the bank, whose CEO resigned on Wednesday.

At the other end of the European benchmark, IG Group slumped 9.78 percent, after the trading firm posted earnings. The group said first-quarter revenue had fallen by 4.7 percent, hit by a drop in market volatility and client activity.

Casino dropped over 4 percent after Goldman Sachs slashed its target price on the retail group, while fellow retailer Zalando tumbled 3 percent after UBS cut its target price on the stock.

In corporate news, Ryanair shareholders re-elected Chairman David Bonderman and Chief Executive Michael O'Leary to the company's board. However, support fell for the two executives, after the budget carrier faced industrial action that disrupted flights. O'Leary, 57, said he was reluctant to commit to signing up for a five-year contract due to his age. Shares closed down 2.4 percent.

And the U.K.'s Takeover Panel on Thursday said that a $35 billion takeover battle for British broadcaster Sky would go to an auction on Saturday if the competitive situation remains unchanged. The media bidding war pits Twenty-First Century Fox against Comcast, and could see Disney gain control of Sky if Fox emerges victorious.

Trade war, Brexit in focus

Global markets appear to be shrugging off concerns over and escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. On Monday, the U.S. slapped tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods. China retaliated by putting tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

Despite the trade spat escalating, U.S. stocks surged during Thursday's trade, with the Dow notching its first record high since January. Sentiment on Wall Street was boosted as investors bet that a trade war between the U.S. and China will not be as bad as previously feared. Asian markets were more cautious, however, closing mixed.

Trade tensions continue to send shockwaves. Jack Ma, founder of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, has recanted his promise to Donald Trump to create 1 million U.S. jobs. "The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations," Ma said to Chinese news site Xinhua. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."

In Europe, an informal summit of European Union leaders has been taking place in Austria. EU leaders are looking to push for a Brexit deal by October, but have cautioned U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May that talks could collapse if she doesn't give leeway on the issues of Northern Ireland's border and trade; Reuters reported.

U.K. retail sales jumped 3.3 percent last month compared to August 2017, data showed Thursday, beating analyst expectations. Sterling jumped 0.7 percent at the close to $1.323, lifted by the sales numbers and optimism over Brexit.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.