European stocks close slightly higher following Thursday's sharp sell-off

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.1% higher, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • Thursday saw the European blue chip index plunge 4% following a gloomy economic outlook from the Fed.

European markets closed slightly higher on Friday, attempting to recover from the previous session's sharp sell-off.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.1% higher provisionally, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Thursday saw the European blue chip index plunge 4% after an economic reality check from the U.S. Federal Reserve and concern over a second wave of coronavirus infections rocked sentiment.

The Fed cautioned of a 6.5% fall in U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) in 2020, denting hopes of an immediate "V-shaped" economic recovery in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, while several U.S. states reported a spike in coronavirus cases after reopening their economies.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 200 points Friday as U.S. indexes clawed back some of the sharp losses from their worst day since March.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Thursday that governments around the world have deployed $10 trillion in stimulus packages aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than 7.5 million people worldwide. However, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva suggested that significantly more action will be needed to shore up the global economy.

In Europe, the Financial Times reported Thursday that the U.K. has abandoned plans to introduce border checks with the European Union on Jan. 1, after pressure from businesses to minimize chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain said Thursday that it had agreed on an intensified timetable in July for negotiations over a new free trade agreement with the EU, as both sides look to thrash out an accord before the Brexit transition period concludes at the end of the year.

The U.K. posted the biggest monthly fall in GDP (gross domestic product) on record in April, according to data released Friday by the Office for National Statistics.

GDP fell by 20.4% compared to the previous month, a sharper contraction than the 18.4% expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

Biggest movers

Pearson rose nearly 12% to the top of the Stoxx 600 after activist investor Cevian Capital disclosed that it had taken a 5.4% stake in the U.K. education publisher.

Games Workshop shares jumped over 8% after the British war game manufacturer forecast sales of £270 million ($340.24 million) for the year ended May 31.

At the bottom of the European benchmark, shares of German meal kit delivery company Hellofresh fell by almost 5%.