European stocks closed higher on average Friday despite the U.S. hiking duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese products.
The pan-European STOXX 600 climbed provisionally 0.4% higher, with the export-heavy German DAX index rising by 0.85%. All but three sectors closed in positive territory, with only the autos sector, with its heavy exposure to China, edging below the flatline.
Washington increased tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% overnight. China immediately said it would retaliate, though did not specify how. But European investors have not been spooked by this latest chapter in ongoing trade tensions between the two economic superpowers.
"Investors seemingly continue to try to cling to hope that policymakers on both sides opt to de-escalate," Deutsche Bank research strategist Jim Reid said in a research note Friday morning.
Looking at individual stocks, metal producer Thyssenkrupp surged to the top of the European index after Reuters reported the company was considering a partial listing of its elevator business. The German stock gained 28.4%.
German broadcaster ProSiebensat was also a top performer, gaining almost 5% after setting a June launch date for its streaming service.
Meanwhile, Danish medical device manufacturer Ambu saw its stock sink 20% after it was announced on Friday that CEO Lars Marcher would step down. Marcher will be replaced by U.S. national Juan-Jose Gonzales as of May 15, with the change carrying one-off costs of about 38 million Danish krone ($5.72 million).
The U.K. posted its first-quarter GDP data on Friday, showing a quarter-on-quarter economic expansion of 0.5%, the country's highest level of growth since 2017. Sterling was little changed, however, as uncertainty around Brexit continued to weigh and reports that bi-partisan talks between Britain's leading political parties were on the verge of collapse.