European stocks closed mixed Thursday as investors searched for signs on what to expect from the upcoming G-20 summit.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally barely above the flatline. Retail stocks bucked the trend to rise more than 2%, buoyed by a sharp gain in H&M shares, while the media sector led declines with a 0.7% fall.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce maintained a firm stance against the U.S. during a weekly press conference Thursday, calling on Washington to cancel its pressure and sanction measures on Huawei and other Chinese companies.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that President Xi will present the terms China expects the U.S. to meet in order to settle the trade war, including the lifting of its Huawei ban, a removal of all tariffs and the cessation of efforts to force China into buying more U.S. exports.
President Donald Trump had said Wednesday that a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping was possible when the two meet this weekend at the G-20 summit in Osaka, but warned that he was prepared to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if talks fall through.
Back in Europe, Germany and Italy drove euro zone economic sentiment to its lowest point in three years in June as confidence fell markedly in the bloc's largest economies, European Commission data revealed on Thursday.
In corporate news, Vodafone is reportedly set to secure EU antitrust approval for its $22 billion bid for Liberty Global's cable networks in central Europe after offering concessions in May. Vodafone shares rose more than 2%.
Meanwhile, German chemicals giant Bayer, under pressure from activist shareholders, said Wednesday that it has hired an external lawyer and set up a committee to resolve a multi-billion dollar litigation issue. The company has seen its share price tumble after its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto brought a raft of legal issues over allegations of a glyphosate weedkiller causing cancer. Bayer shares climbed nearly 9%.
Swedish retailer H&M saw its share price climb almost 14% after announcing an expansion of its partnership with Swedish bank Klarna into the U.S. The company also reported a slight drop in second-quarter profit, falling just short of market expectations, but said sales of its summer collections were off to a strong start.
Shares of Chr. Hansen, meanwhile, plummeted close to 14% after the Danish bioscience company cut its full-year revenue outlook after posting disappointing profit figures.