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European stocks close slightly higher on Brexit relief, strong US earnings

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closes provisionally around 0.1% higher, with sectors and major bourses mostly in positive territory.
  • U.S. stocks rise after J.P. Morgan posts strong earnings and Chevron says it will buy Anadarko in a $33 billion cash and stock deal.
  • Warnings over slowing economic activity from the IMF, the ECB and Fed have dampened sentiment and put a lid on any significant gains.

European stocks closed slightly higher Friday as economic data, early first-quarter results and Brexit relief calmed fears over the region's economy.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally around 0.1% higher, with sectors and major bourses mostly in positive territory.

Looking at individual stocks, Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Store Nord's shares surged to the top of the European benchmark, gaining almost 8% after the company upgraded its revenue growth guidance following a strong start to the year.

Shares of British engine manufacturer Rolls Royce were trading more than 1% higher after the company announced a deal with Korea's Air Premia that will see the firm make engines for its jets.

Petroleum firm Rubis tumbled toward the bottom of the European benchmark after Bloomberg reported the CEO of KenolKobil — an African oil company being taken over by the firm — was set to step down following long-term corruption allegations. Shares of Rubis were down over 4%.

Meanwhile, Italian payments group Nexi priced its IPO at 9 euros per share on Friday, unveiling what is set to be one of Europe's biggest initial public offerings this year. Nexi's shares will begin trading in Milan on Tuesday.

Earnings, economic data

Stateside, stocks rose after J.P. Morgan posted strong earnings and Chevron said it would buy oil and gas driller Anadarko in a $33 billion cash and stock deal.

Investors are poring over early first-quarter results amid fears over the global growth outlook. In addition to J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo also reported better-than-expected results, but the stock turned south on the back of the lender's tepid outlook for net interest income.

Warnings over slowing economic activity from the International Monetary Fund, as well as dovish comments from the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve, have dampened sentiment and put a lid on any significant gains from equities.

Investors found some relief after talks between EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week culminated in a "flexible extension" of the U.K.'s departure from the bloc until Oct. 31.

Elsewhere, euro zone industrial output declined in February by less than expected, with the EU's statistics office Eurostat saying Friday that production across the 19 countries sharing the currency fell by 0.2%. While production fell in Germany, France and Italy, the euro zone's second and third biggest economies, saw industrial output increase.

Meanwhile, data showed Chinese exports rebounded in March, but imports shrank for the fourth straight month and at a sharper pace, painting a mixed picture of the world's second-largest economy.