European markets close lower as Brexit talks rumble on; Carrefour shares up 9%

  • Market focus kept an eye on Brexit talks, as negotiations over Britain's departure from the EU remain at an impasse.
  • Stocks stumbled as Italy awaited an official response from the EU on their budget proposal.
  • Carrefour led the gains on Thursday, up almost 9 percent amid earnings news. The French supermarket reported higher sales in the third-quarter, citing strong performances in its core French and Brazilian markets.

European stocks edged lower on Thursday, after EU leaders shelved plans for a special summit to complete a Brexit deal over the coming weeks.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished provisionally down around 0.48 percent, with sectors moving in opposite directions.

Europe's media stocks led the gains, up 0.54 percent amid earnings news. France's Publicis was the top sectoral performer, after the world's third-biggest advertising company said net revenue rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter. Shares of the Paris-listed stock were 4.06 percent higher by the close of trade.

Meanwhile, construction stocks were dragged lower amid news that HeidelbergCement issued a profit warning. The world's largest cement maker dropped 8.72 percent as a result.

Looking further across the European benchmark, Carrefour led the gains, up 8.89 percent. The French supermarket reported higher sales in the third-quarter, citing strong performances in its core French and Brazilian markets.

Novartis' shares rose 1.90 percent on Thursday. That byuing comes after the pharmaceutical firm announced that it is buying the cancer-drug maker Endocyte for $2.1 billion.

Brexit & Italy

Market focus is largely attuned to ongoing Brexit talks, as negotiations over Britain's departure from the EU remain at an impasse. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May addressed EU leaders in Brussels Wednesday evening and assured them both sides could still strike a deal.

Nonetheless, leaders at the Brussels summit were left frustrated as Britain failed to offer any new proposals to unlock the vexed Irish border question. Both sides have agreed to keep negotiating, though it was decided insufficient progress had been made to call a special summit next month.

The latest development on Brexit is a suggestion that the transition period from full withdrawal to permanent separation could be extended from the current 21 months.

Also on the radar is the EU response to the draft Italian budget proposal which wants to incur a deficit of 2.4 percent in 2109.

The Italian 10-yr bond yield hit its highest level since February 2014, while the spread to the German 10-yr is at the highest since 2013. The FTSE-MIB stock index on Milan finished lower by 1.89 percent.

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In the United States stocks had moved lower in east coast morning trade. Fears of rising interest rates appeared to have overshadowed strong corporate earnings reports.