European markets close up on US-China trade talks; Euro slides on ECB comments

Key Points
  • Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, with market participants in wait-and-see mode as high-level U.S.-China trade talks continue.
  • The ECB has suggested a new round of long-term loans to banks is possible.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a snap general election on Friday.

European stocks closed higher on Friday on the back of China-U.S. trade talks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600  ended provisionally up by 1.42 percent with clear gains in basic resources and autos on the back of optimism regarding U.S.-China trade talks.

A fresh round of long-term loans from the European Central Bank to euro zone banks is being discussed, ECB board member Benoit Coeure said in New York on Friday.

Coeure added that the euro zone's recent economic slowdown is more pronounced than previously expected. His comments prompted the euro to slide to slide in value versus the dollar.

A U.S. trade delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was in Beijing this week. Chinese President Xi Jinping said talks will continue next week in Washington.

China and the U.S. are trying to strike a trade deal before an early March deadline. On Thursday, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said there has been no decision to extend the deadline for a deal.

Looking at individual stocks, Germany's Scout24 surged to the top of the European benchmark. It comes after Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone offered to buy the online classifieds group for 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion), including debt. Shares of Scout24 rose 11 percent.

Meanwhile, France's Eutelstat slumped to the bottom of the index amid earnings news. Shares of the Paris-listed stock tumbled 6.5 percent after reporting a fall in first-half net revenue.

Elsewhere, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a snap general election on Friday. Spaniards will go to the polls on April 28. This comes after parliament rejected Sanchez minority government's 2019 budget proposal.