Europe Markets

Europe stocks close higher after Trump says US-China close to a trade deal

Key Points
  • President Trump says Washington and Beijing are in the "final throes" of talks aimed at securing a trade deal.
  • Lufthansa is in final talks to complete the sale of its European catering operations to Swiss firm Gategroup.
  • French consumer confidence data exceeded analyst expectations to hit 106 in November, its highest since June 2017 and up from 104 in October.

European markets closed higher on Wednesday, as investors tracked positive mood music around U.S.-China trade talks and promising consumer confidence figures out of France.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 came down off the day's peak to end the session 0.3% higher, having earlier hit a four-year high. Telecoms led the way with a gain of 1% while oil and gas stocks slid 0.3% lower.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Washington and Beijing were in the "final throes" of talks aimed at securing a trade deal, though the U.S. leader also expressed his administration's support for protesters in Hong Kong, a particularly thorny issue for China at the moment.

Stocks on Wall Street were mostly higher on Wednesday, with both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 rising while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped into negative territory.

As for data, fresh figures showed that Chinese industrial profits dropped for a third consecutive month in October.

In Europe, French consumer confidence data exceeded analyst expectations to hit 106 in November, its highest since June 2017 and up from 104 in October. The pleasant surprise offered a tailwind to cautious European stocks Wednesday morning.

Market participants also kept a close watch on the latest political developments out of the U.K., as the country heads for a fresh set of elections on Dec. 12.

Britain's two main political parties have become embroiled in a debate over religious prejudice. The opposition Labour party was accused by the chief rabbi of failing to tackle anti-Semitism seriously, while a Muslim group said the ruling Conservative party has an Islamophobia problem.

In corporate news, Reuters reports that Lufthansa is in final talks to complete the sale of its European catering operations to Swiss firm Gategroup.

In terms of individual stocks, UDG Healthcare rose 8% after reporting positive full-year results on Tuesday, while SEB added 3.4% after the Swedish bank announced that it had found no evidence of alleged links between the bank and companies sanctioned for involvement in Russian tax fraud.

Knorr Bremse stock slid 3.6% after the German brake system manufacturer reported disappointing results before the bell, while Hexpol shares shed 2.8%.

Altran shares edged 0.3% higher after activist hedge fund Elliott said Capgemini's 3.6 billion euro ($3.96 billion) offer for the French engineering group was too low.