Europe Markets

European stocks close higher amid US-China trade optimism, German consumer data

Key Points
  • Traders are monitoring the latest global trade developments.
  • In Europe, Brexit continues to weigh on investors' minds.

European stocks closed higher on Thursday amid hopes that the U.S. and China will be able to resolve their protracted trade battle, with upbeat consumer sentiment data out of Germany providing an additional boost.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up nearly 0.7% at the closing bell, with utilities stocks leading the way on a 1.6% gain and most sectors in positive territory.

Traders are monitoring the latest global trade developments after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that a deal to end the standoff between the two countries could happen sooner than expected.

The world's two largest economies have slapped import duties on billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods in a tariff war that began early last year.

European markets were buoyed Thursday by the German Gfk consumer confidence survey, which rose for the first time in 2019 to come in at 9.9 for October following a reading of 9.7 for September.

However, fears of heightened political uncertainty remain amid an impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats into the U.S. leader.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a redacted copy of the whistleblower complaint that sparked the inquiry. The nine-page document detailed an "urgent concern" that Trump was using his influence as president to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. election, citing a July phone call between the U.S. leader and his Ukrainian counterpart.

Stocks on Wall Street traded lower on Thursday as the political turmoil in Washington outweighed optimism for a Sino-U.S. trade war reprieve.

Back in Europe, Brexit continued to weigh on investors' minds, after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stuck by his view that the country's Supreme Court was wrong to rule his suspension of Parliament unlawful.

Britain's leader also challenged the opposition Labour Party to oust him in a vote of no confidence and trigger an early election. Sterling was flat against the dollar Thursday afternoon, trading at around $1.2355.

Stocks on the move

Belgian retailer Colruyt's stock rose 7.5% by the closing bell after the company upgraded its full-year net income guidance, seeing the firm end the session at the top of the Stoxx 600.

It was followed by French software firm Dassault Systemes, which climbed 4.6%. The company announced on Tuesday that U.S. regulators would consider its acquisition of American firm Medidata Solutions for a further 45 days, with Dassault sticking with its target of closing the transaction by the fourth quarter of 2019.

British education publisher and assessment provider Pearson plummeted 14% to the bottom of the European blue chip index after issuing a profit warning on weak U.S. trading.

ABN Amro tumbled more than 12% after Dutch prosecutors launched an investigation into alleged money laundering failures, while tobacco company Imperial Brands fell 13% following a profit warning.