LONDON — European markets closed higher on Friday as investors monitored signs of progress toward a U.S. stimulus deal and digested a raft of major corporate earnings.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed about 0.5% higher, with banks jumping over 2.5% on the back of strong earnings to lead the gains while retail stocks slumped around 0.9%.
European stocks tracked gains on Wall Street after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were "just about there" in discussions over a new coronavirus aid bill.
However, Pelosi cooled anticipation of legislation being in place prior to the Nov. 3 election, suggesting it could be "a while" for the bill to be written and signed.
U.S. markets were mostly lower Friday as a decline in Intel pressured the broader tech sector. The chipmaker's shares fell sharply following the release of mixed quarterly numbers.
Meanwhile, in a breakthrough on the treatment front, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for Covid-19.
Back in Europe, the U.K. and European Union ramped up daily talks on Thursday as time ticks away for both sides to agree on a post-Brexit trading arrangement.
On the data front, the flash euro zone PMI composite output index, which looks at activity in both manufacturing and services sectors, dropped to a four-month low in October to 49.4, versus 50.4 in September. A reading below 50 represents a contraction in activity.
Barclays on Friday reported a net profit of £611 million ($797.7 million) for the third quarter, more than double analyst expectations of £273.5 million, in part due to a sharp reduction in coronavirus-related impairment charges. Barclays shares added over 8% by the afternoon, leading a broad rally for banks.
At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Swedish engineering company AF Poyry fell 12% after the pandemic hit third-quarter sales.