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European markets close higher; Axel Springer leaps on KKR investment talks

Key Points
  • European markets gained ground Thursday but remained on course for the year's biggest monthly decline amid persistent escalations of the U.S.-China trade war.
  • The Stoxx 600 gains 0.6% while the FTSE 100 ends up 0.5% higher.

European markets recovered steadily Thursday but remained on course for the year's biggest monthly decline amid persistent escalations of the U.S.-China trade war.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 finished provisionally up by 0.6% in afternoon trade, led by media stocks with a climb of 1.8%, although autos lost ground on average.

The FTSE 100 ended up 0.5% higher, while markets in France and Germany made similar gains.

In terms of individual stocks, German publisher Axel Springer soared 22% after it revealed talks were underway with private equity house KKR over a potential strategic investment. Shares of Swedish radiation company Elekta continued to soar, adding almost 19% to Wednesday's gains on the back of strong fourth-quarter results.

Danish medical equipment maker Ambu traded 6.2% lower in the afternoon session, its share price continuing to suffer two weeks on from its CEO stepping down on May 15.

The Chinese state newspaper Wednesday used the history-laden phrase "don't say we didn't warn you," indicating escalating trade tensions between the world's largest economies. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui followed this up Thursday by equating U.S. trade provocations to "naked economic terrorism."

The focus of China's renewed threat has been on its dominance in rare earth minerals, which are crucial to the production of a host of technology products, including iPhones and electric vehicles. The Pentagon is reportedly working to reduce U.S. reliance on Chinese rare earth minerals in light of the threat.

Meanwhile, British Finance Minister, Philip Hammond, threw his weight behind candidates opposing the possibility of a "no deal" Brexit in the race to replace resigning Prime Minister Theresa May.

Speaking to Sky News Thursday, Hammond has left open the option of supporting a vote of no-confidence against the next prime minister to stop them pursuing a course of action which is "not in Britain's interests."