European stocks close slightly higher as investors digest a fresh round of corporate earnings

Key Points
  • European Union member states are in the process of discussing the length of a proposed extension to the U.K.'s October 31 deadline for leaving the EU.
  • The prime minister meanwhile has offered to give British lawmakers more time to debate his deal if they back a general election on December 12.

European stocks ended slightly higher on Friday after a substantial round of corporate earnings, while traders also monitored Brexit developments and tense exchanges between the U.S. and China.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished provisionally higher by 0.12%, with retail stocks rising just over 1.1% to lead gains while food and beverages dropped nearly 1.7% as sectors and major bourses pointed in opposite directions.

The state of limbo for Brexit is set to carry into next week after EU ambassadors agreed on the need to grant the U.K. a third extension to its deadline for leaving the bloc, but failed to reach a consensus on its duration.

Global markets are also reacting to critical comments from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence toward China which evoked ire in Beijing as the world's two largest economies continue talks aimed at bringing an end to their protracted trade war.

Stocks on Wall Street traded higher on Friday as investors across the Atlantic continued to monitor corporate earnings reports.

Back in Europe, German business morale held firm in October with the Ifo Institute's business climate index coming in at 94.6, unchanged from the previous month and slightly above estimates.

Earnings in focus

Traders are also reacting to a slew of corporate earnings for the third quarter released on Friday morning.

British lender Barclays reported a net loss for the third quarter on Friday after being hit by £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) worth of insurance claims, but traded 2.2% higher on the back of strong underlying figures.

Belgian brewer AB InBev posted flat third-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), sending the stock tumbling 10.5%.

Italian clothing brand Moncler climbed 10.7% after a positive earnings report to lead the Stoxx 600, closely followed by French luxury group Kering, which saw its shares climb 8.1%.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, United Internet shares plunged almost 20.% after an independent expert rejected a request from its unit Drillisch to retroactively reduce its prices under an agreement with Telefonica Deutschland, according to Reuters.

Ubisoft fell nearly 16% after cutting its profit guidance and delaying the release for some triple-A games.