Top Stories
Top Stories
Markets

European markets close week higher; chip makers best performers

Key Points
  • Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, as sentiment improved on a report that more progress has been made in talks between the world's two largest economies.
  • U.K. lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek a delay in Britain's exit from the EU.

European stocks ended higher Friday afternoon, after U.K. lawmakers voted on Thursday night to seek delay of a potentially chaotic exit from the European Union for at least three months.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally 0.73 percent higher during afternoon deals, with major bourses and most sectors in positive territory.

Looking at individual stocks, Volkswagen shares were down 0.3 percent, after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit to sue the automaker and its former CEO over the diesel emissions scandal.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

UBS shares fell around 1.1 percent after the bank said it had set aside 450 million euros ($516 million) to appeal a French court ruling that slapped a 4.5 billion euro fine on the company for alleged money laundering, Reuters reported.

Swedbank, also facing money laundering allegations, saw its shares lose half a percent Friday afternoon, after Swedish media reported an internal probe uncovered $10 billion of "suspicious" transactions relating to Danske Bank customers. Shares in both banks ended higher, despite the news.

Travel retailer Dufry surged towards the top of the European benchmark, gaining 2.3 percent after reporting turnover growth of 3.7 percent in 2018. The company also announced shareholder dividends would rise by 6.7 percent from the previous year.

Shares of Anglo-German travel firm Tui rose 2.4 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded its stock to "overweight" on Thursday.

Tech shares, and particular chipmakers, dominated the best performing European stocks. Globally chip stocks have performed well in recent weeks on upbeat earnings and hopes of a trade war breakthrough.

In other corporate news, BMW posted a net profit loss of almost 17 percent in 2018. The German car manufacturer's shares were 1 percent higher after it warned of a difficult 2019 and said it would set up cost-cutting measures in anticipation of continued headwinds.

Inflation in the euro zone saw a 1.5 percent year-on-year increase in February, the European Commission confirmed on Friday.

Brexit delay

Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, as sentiment improved on a report that more progress has been made in talks between the world's two largest economies.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke via telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

It comes after Mnuchin said on Thursday that a summit to secure a comprehensive trade agreement between President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would not happen at the end of March as previously discussed.

Back in Europe, British Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing once more to try and win approval for her twice-rejected Brexit deal.

U.K. lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek a delay in Britain's exit from the EU. It marked the end to a dramatic trilogy of events this week which have added yet more confusion into the whole Brexit process.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal suffered a second humiliating defeat as it was voted down by a majority of 149 votes. Then on Wednesday, U.K. lawmakers rejected the idea of leaving the bloc without a withdrawal agreement in place.