Europe finishes on an upbeat note as trade fears ease; sterling slumps on Brexit news

  • Equities in Europe followed the positive sentiment globally, with Asian markets in the black and Wall Street building on the gains seen during its Thursday session.
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that the U.K. and EU were at an "impasse" in Brexit discussions. She added that she wouldn't overturn the referendum's result. Sterling hit a session low following the speech.
  • Uber is reportedly in early discussions to buy food delivery upstart Deliveroo for several billion dollars — shares of listed rivals came under pressure following the news.

European stocks posted solid gains by the end of Friday's session, as investors continued to digest the latest political and corporate news.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 popped 0.43 percent by the provisional close, with almost all sectors closing in the black. On the week, however, the STOXX 600 soared 1.70 percent.

On the bourses front, the FTSE 100 surpassed fellow indexes, closing up 1.67 percent as sterling came under pressure. The French CAC 40 rose 0.78 percent, and Germany's DAX jumped 0.85 percent. Most markets in peripheral Europe closed higher.

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Looking at Europe's main sectors, basic resources outpaced fellow groups, jumping 1.71 percent with Kaz Minerals topping the index and the STOXX 600, with the stock finishing up 10 percent. The rise in miners comes as copper, zinc and nickel prices posted sharp gains on Friday. London-listed miners Antofagasta, Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton all ended the session up more than 3.5 percent each.

In dealmaking news, ride-hailing firm Uber is reportedly in early discussions to buy food delivery upstart Deliveroo for several billion dollars. Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the plans, said any offer would need to be considerably higher than Deliveroo's last reported valuation of more than $2 billion. Uber declined to comment when contacted by CNBC, while Deliveroo said: "Company policy is we do not comment on speculation." Shares of listed competitor Just Eat fell on the news, slipping 4.8 percent — making it the biggest loser on the STOXX 600.

Looking at individual stocks, French engineering firm Altran Technologies climbed 3.38 percent amid a report that the company's chief executive has been buying up shares.

Meanwhile, engineering company Smiths Group dropped 4.4 percent after the firm reported worse-than-expected full-year results. The group said its profits were hurt by short-term issues at its medical unit. Caixabank fell 3.6 percent after Kepler Cheuvreux and KBW slashed their price target on the lender.

Elsewhere, investors will be keeping an eye on Sky, as Twenty-First Century Fox and Comcast head for an auction to settle a takeover of the U.K. broadcaster. The auction will kick off late Friday and is expected to conclude on Saturday. Shares of the broadcaster closed a touch higher on Friday.

Brexit

Equities in Europe followed the positive sentiment globally, with Asian markets in the black on the back of sharp gains from Wall Street. The Dow notched its first record high since January on Thursday while the S&P 500 reached an all-time high of its own, the first since August. On the final day of the week, most of Wall Street built upon the gains seen in the previous session in early trading.

On the continent, Brexit continues to remain under the lenses of traders, after European leaders upped the pressure on British Prime Minister Theresa May at an informal summit in Salzburg, Austria. European Council President Donald Tusk said the U.K. leader's plan to withdraw from the European Union "will not work."

Following on from the meeting, the British leader said Friday that the U.K. and EU were at an "impasse" in Brexit discussions. May said she wouldn't overturn the result of the referendum that took place in June 2016. Sterling hit a session low following the speech, and was trading sharply down at the market close, at $1.3076, down more than 1.3 percent against the dollar.

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Sticking with Europe, Italy's spending deficit as a proportion of gross domestic product was slightly higher in 2017 than in the previous year, data showed Friday. Luigi Di Maio, the country's deputy prime minister, said earlier today that the government's flat tax and universal income policies would be integrated into its 2019 budget, raising concerns that it could head for a standoff with Europe over the proposed measures.

Elsewhere, purchasing managers' index data was slightly worse-than-expected, with the flash composite PMI figure coming in at 54.2, against a Thomson Reuters analyst forecast of 54.4.