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Europe ends higher with Italy's spending in focus; trade fears wane

Key Points
  • The Italian government is reportedly planning to lower its deficit.
  • Luxury carmaker Aston Martin started trading on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech during her party's conference in Birmingham.

European stocks posted solid gains by the end of Wednesday's trade, as market players kept a close eye on Italian politics and shrugged off concerns surrounding global trade.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.50 percent by the close with all but one of the region's sectors closing in positive territory. Telecoms and media were the strongest performers, closing up more than 1 percent each as a group, while retail dipped into the red.

On the bourses front, the U.K. FTSE 100 rose 0.48 percent, while France's CAC 40 popped 0.43 percent. In peripheral Europe, most markets closed higher. Germany's DAX was closed on Wednesday, in light of German Unity Day.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

In Europe, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Wednesday that the government was planning to lower its deficit from 2.2 percent in 2020, to 2 percent in 2021, from an expected 2.4 percent next year. Though the spending plans are much higher than what the previous government planned, the willingness to decrease the deficit in the coming years lifted sentiment. On Wednesday, Italy's FTSE MIB closed up 0.84 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Altran Technologies led the gains in Europe, finishing up 9.13 percent, following a ratings upgrade. Also among the biggest climbers was ITV, which jumped over 3.5 percent after denying speculation that it would bid for Endemol Shine, the production company behind "Big Brother" and "Masterchef."

At the other end of the index stood Norsk Hydro, which dropped 11.85 percent, hitting the bottom of the continental benchmark after it said it would halt production at Brazil's Alunorte, the world's largest alumina refinery. Shares of Tesco slumped 8.6 percent, after the supermarket retailer's saw its first half profit miss analysts' forecasts, following weak trading seen overseas.

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin started trading on the London Stock Exchange for the first time. However, shares ended deep in the red, following its market debut on the back of concerns that the brand will struggle to deliver an ambitious roll-out of new models.

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On Wall Street, stocks traded sharply higher around Europe's close, after a report showed better-than-expected jobs creation in the U.S. last month. Private companies added 230,000 more positions for the month, the best level since the 241,000 jobs added in February and well ahead of the 168,000 jobs added in August.

Traders seem to have mostly shrugged off concerns over global trade tensions, after the U.S. reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, investors will likely be turning their attention to China now, as relations with the U.S. remain tense.

Meanwhile, Brexit continues to dominate investor sentiment. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech Wednesday during her party's conference in Birmingham, England. May mostly stuck to script during the speech, reiterating her view that Britain is willing to withdraw from the European Union without a deal and calling on Conservative Party members to unite behind her.

Prior to her speech, May faced an explicit call from fellow Conservative lawmaker James Duddridge to resign. Duddridge submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the Conservative Party's parliamentary group.

- CNBC's Fred Imbert and Jeff Cox contributed to this report.