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European stocks close lower as Italian banks plunge on political turmoil; Autos down 2.5%

Key Points
  • European stocks closed lower on Friday as investors monitor trade war developments and a possible collapse of the Italian government.
  • President Trump said on Friday the U.S. was not ready to do business with Huawei and he was not ready to do a trade deal with China.
  • Italy's coalition government imploded on Thursday, as deputy prime minister and leader of Italy's ruling League party, Matteo Salvini, declared the arrangement unworkable and called for fresh general elections.

European stocks closed lower on Friday as investors monitored trade war developments and a possible collapse of the Italian government.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was provisionally 0.9% lower at the closing bell, with most sectors and major bourses in the red.

Banking stocks shed 1.9%, dragged down by Italian lenders, while China-exposed basic resources and autos stocks led losses, with both sectors falling by more than 2.5%. Healthcare stocks bucked the trend, hovering just above the flatline.

Italy's coalition government imploded on Thursday, as deputy prime minister and leader of Italy's ruling Lega party, Matteo Salvini, declared the arrangement unworkable and called for fresh general elections.

Italy's FTSE MIB index was 2.5% lower by the end of Friday's session, as investors veered away from Italian assets amid the rising instability.

Italian bank stocks plunged, with Banco BPM shares tumbling 9%, while Unicredit and Ubi Banca fell by 5% and 8% respectively.

In the latest trade war developments, a majority of economists polled by Reuters said the recent escalation of tensions between the U.S. and China had brought forward the next U.S. recession, and indicated that the Federal Reserve is likely to cut rates again in September before a further cut next year.

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report claimed Thursday that the U.S. is holding off on giving permission to U.S. companies to use Huawei products after China halted its buying of American agricultural produce.

Later, President Trump said the U.S. was not ready to do business with Huawei and he was not ready to do a trade deal with China.

China's currency remains in focus as the People's Bank of China (PBOC) again set the daily yuan midpoint weaker than the key barometer of 7 per dollar.

Stocks on Wall Street extended losses during Friday's trading session, dragged down by chip stocks which fell on the back of Trump's latest statement on China.

Back in Europe, official data showed that the British economy has shrunk for the first time since late 2012 after U.K. second quarter GDP (gross domestic product) contracted by 0.2%.

Sterling and the FTSE 100 were both trading lower on the news, with uncertainty increasing as British media speculated that a general election may be called in the U.K. by November.

Looking at individual stocks, London-listed WPP surged to the top of the Stoxx 600 after its earnings beat forecasts, with shares up more than 7%.

At the other end of the European benchmark were Italian lenders Ubi Banca and Banco BPM.