European markets declined Friday as investors monitored the latest coronavirus developments and breaking news on the corporate front.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 slipped 0.32% below the flatline by mid-afternoon, with basic resources falling more than 2% to lead losses. Telecoms, banks and utilities bucked the trend to move higher.
Investors remain attentive to the economic developments of the coronavirus outbreak. S&P Global Ratings said in a report Friday that it lowered its growth forecasts for China for 2020 to 5% from 5.7% prior to the outbreak.
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on the phone Friday morning, Beijing time. A spokesperson for the White House said that "President Trump expressed confidence in China's strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak."
In corporate news, Credit Suisse announced that Tidjane Thiam is resigning as chief executive officer from the bank, effective from February 14. Thomas Gottstein, who currently heads the bank's Swiss unit, will be taking over as CEO. The news follows a long drawn-out spying scandal at the bank.
Credit Suisse shares tumbled at the start of trade but trimmed losses to trade 1.5% lower by mid-afternoon.
Economic data placed some downward pressure on markets after German industrial production plunged in December. The Federal Statistics Office said Friday morning that total industrial output, comprising manufacturing, energy and construction, fell 3.5% from November in calendar-adjusted terms, well below the 0.1% rise forecast by economists.
French industrial output also fell further than expected in December, tumbling 2.8% against an expectation of -0.4%.
Nonfarm payrolls in the U.S. beat forecasts with 225,000 jobs added in January.
Earnings remained in focus as cosmetics giant L'Oreal reported an 11.4% rise in fourth-quarter revenue and beat sales projections despite warning of a slight hit expected due to the coronavirus. The stock pared early gains to trade 1% higher by the close.
Skanska missed fourth-quarter operating profit expectations. The Swedish construction group's shares barely budged on the news.
Norsk Hydro shares fell 8% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after the aluminum and renewable energy firm posted a far smaller-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter earnings, citing low metals prices.
Enjoying contrasting fortunes was Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara, which climbed 5.3% after reporting stronger-than-expected profits before the bell.
Finnish telecoms company Nokia saw its shares jump 7% after U.S. Attorney General William Barr told an audience in Washington on Thursday that the U.S. and its allies should consider buyouts of Nokia and Ericsson, in a bid to counter Chinese giant Huawei's 5G dominance. Ericsson shares also gained 5.7%.