Markets

European markets close higher as Italian and French industrial data surprises

Key Points
  • Having begun the session in the red, markets across the continent received a boost after better-than-expected industrial data from Italy and France.
  • On Wall Street, stocks were mostly higher as traders digested news about a potential coronavirus treatment as well as another record spike in U.S. virus cases.
  • Geopolitical disputes continue to simmer in the background, and the U.S. is expected to announce deferred retaliatory measures against France over its digital services tax on Friday.

European markets closed higher Friday as data showed French and Italian industry output rebounding more strongly than expected in May.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up by 0.8%, autos adding 2.3% to lead gains as all sectors except health care advanced into positive territory.

Having begun the session in the red, markets across the continent received a boost after data showed Italian industrial production jumped 42.1% in May from the previous month, as the country emerged from lockdown, outstripping the median forecast of 22.8% by analysts polled by Reuters.

French industry output climbed by 19.6% in May, surpassing economist expectations of a 15.1% rise. France only began lifting its comparatively strict lockdown measures on May 11.

Rising Covid-19 cases

On Wall Street, stocks were mostly higher as traders digested news about a potential coronavirus treatment as well as another record spike in U.S. virus cases.

Gilead Sciences said its coronavirus treatment candidate, remdesivir, was associated with an improvement in clinical recovery and a 62% reduction in the risk of mortality compared with standard of care.  Meanwhile, BioNTech's CEO said the company's coronavirus vaccine candidate could be ready for approval by December.

Gilead and BioNTech's comments came after the U.S. reported more than 63,000 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record high. The country's seven-day average now stands at more than 53,000 cases.

The World Health Organization has cautioned that the virus is "getting worse" in most of the world, with more than 12.2 million confirmed cases globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Australian city of Melbourne is in lockdown once again following a spike in cases as Australian authorities consider slowing the return of citizens amid an outbreak in the state of Victoria, Reuters reported Thursday. Meanwhile, all schools in Hong Kong will be closed from Monday after a spike in locally-transmitted coronavirus infections, Reuters reported Friday. 

Geopolitical disputes continue to simmer in the background, and the U.S. is expected to announce deferred retaliatory measures against France over its digital services tax on Friday, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The U.K. announced Thursday that indoor gyms and swimming pools will reopen from July 25, while outdoor pools and performances will be allowed from this weekend as the country continues to unwind its lockdown measures. Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can open from Monday subject to certain restrictions.

Biggest moves

In terms of individual stocks, French telecoms provider SES and British payments tech company Network International both added around 8% and 7% respectively. Carlsberg climbed more than 6% after the Danish brewer signaled that the slump in beer sales across Western Europe is slowing.

At the other end of the European blue chip index, Teamview, a German firm specializing in remote-work software, slumped almost 5%.