European stocks close higher as trade jitters fade; UK PM resigns amid Brexit crisis

Key Points
  • Europe's Stoxx 600 closes provisionally up nearly 0.6%, with most sectors and bourses in the green.
  • President Donald Trump predicts a swift end to the ongoing trade tensions.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announces she will resign as Tory leader on June 7.

European stocks closed higher on Friday, with investors returning to risk assets as fears over the U.S.-China trade battle receded.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed provisionally almost 0.6% higher with the majority of sectors and all major borses in positive territory. Mining stocks, with their exposure to China and trade news, were among the biggest gainers, jumping over 1%.

That marked a contrast with Thursday's session, in which European equities dropped sharply on the back of trade jitters.

President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that a trade deal with China could lift tough restrictions on the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. "If we made a deal, I can imagine Huawei being included in some form or some part of a trade deal," Trump said to White House reporters. He also predicted a swift end to the ongoing trade tensions.

Looking at individual stocks, French retailer Casino surged to the top of the European benchmark on Friday, with shares gaining almost 8% after a move to place parent company Rallye under protection from creditors relieved some pressure.

CNH Industrial also led the gains, with its stock up close to 3% on the back of a share buyback announcement.

In corporate news, Moeller Maersk shares initially rose after first-quarter results, but turned south after the Danish shipping giant warned trade tensions were slowing growth in the global freight industry. The stock slipped almost 3%.

Meanwhile, U.K.-based retailer B&M also fell despite reporting an 8.7% increase in profit on Thursday. Concern around the company's German business and weak sales in its homeware department dented shares, The Times reported. The stock was off by nearly 4%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 100 points, signaling investor fears over the trade dispute had been allayed by President Trump's comments. The and Nasdaq Composite indexes were also in positive territory.

May resigns

Back in Europe, politics remains a central focus for European investors on Friday, as an EU-wide election continues into a second day. The big political news, though, came out of the U.K.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that she would resign as party leader on June 7, making way for a new PM to continue Brexit negotiations with the EU. Sterling trimmed losses seen in Thursday's session, last changing hands at $1.2688.