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Europe closes higher as investors monitor Brexit uncertainty; US adds 130,000 jobs in August

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by around 0.25%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • Euro zone GDP (gross domestic product) expanded by 0.2% in the second quarter, data showed, after a 0.4% expansion in the first three months of the year.

European markets closed slightly higher Friday, as investors monitored ongoing Brexit uncertainty and developments in the U.S.-China trade war.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by around 0.25%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Looking at individual stocks, Britain's G4S surged toward the top of the European benchmark. It comes after Sky News reported Brink's — a U.S.-based cash handling giant — was plotting a bid to acquire its cash solution business. Shares of the world's largest security company jumped more than 6% on the news.

Meanwhile, Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor tumbled toward the bottom of the index. Shares of the company fell nearly 4% after talks with Malaysia's Axiata about a potential joint venture ended without a deal.

On the data front, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said Friday that euro zone growth halved in the second quarter of 2019. The reading, which confirmed earlier analyst estimates, came as Germany's economy and trade slowed.

Euro zone GDP (gross domestic product) expanded by 0.2% in the second quarter, the data showed, after a 0.4% expansion in the first three months of the year.

Trade war hopes

Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, after the U.S. and China agreed to hold high-level talks in early October.

The news raised hopes that the world's two largest economies could soon make substantial progress in de-escalating their protracted trade dispute.

On Friday, the closely watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls report showed 130,000 jobs had been created in August, slightly lower than anticipated. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected nonfarm payrolls to increase by 150,000.

Brexit uncertainty

Back in Europe, market participants continue to monitor political uncertainty in Britain, with 55 days to go until the world's fifth-largest economy is scheduled to leave the European Union.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt a blow when his brother, Jo Johnson, announced he was quitting the cabinet, citing "unresolvable tension" between his family loyalty and the national interest.