European stocks closed higher on Friday afternoon despite data from the U.S. Labor Department showing a record 20.5 million jobs were lost last month.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 was closed Friday because of the VE Day holiday, which marks 75 years since the day at the end of World War II when fighting against Nazi Germany ceased.
Stocks appeared to get a boost Friday from signs relations between Washington and Beijing are warming, as U.S. and Chinese trade representatives agreed to strengthen their cooperation in implementing the "phase 1" trade deal.
The news has soothed investors, following growing concerns about increasing tensions between the U.S. and China — two of the largest economies in the world.
On the data front, the U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 14.7% from just 4.4%. Both the spike in job losses and the unemployment-rate surge are post-World War II records. But stocks added to gains with investors betting the worst of the coronavirus and its impact on the economy has passed. On Wall Street, stocks saw solid gains.
Back in Europe, German exports plunged 12% in March, according to data released Friday — a much sharper drop than expected, as the coronavirus hit demand in the country. The fall marked the steepest drop in German exports since records began in 1990, Reuters reported.
When it comes to individual stocks, Siemens rose 6% Friday after reporting earnings for the first quarter. Speaking to CNBC, Chief Executive Joe Kaeser warned of a trough in the third quarter looking ahead. "The question – the jury is still out – is how long it's going to last," he said.
— CNBC's Eustance Huang and Fred Imbert contributed to this report