Markets

European stocks close mostly higher as euro zone GDP beats forecasts

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by around 0.2% after a choppy trading session.
  • Global coronavirus cases rose by a single-day record of half a million on Thursday.
  • Euro zone GDP jumped by more than expected in the third quarter, according to a flash estimate.

LONDON — European markets closed mostly higher Friday after better-than-expected economic data, despite worries over tightening coronavirus restrictions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up by around 0.2% after a choppy trading session, with oil and gas shares climbing 1.9% to lead the gains.

Global coronavirus cases rose by a single-day record of half a million on Thursday, and the European Union now plans to finance the transfer of Covid-19 patients across borders within the bloc in order to avoid overburdening of hospitals as the virus surges across the continent.

Euro zone GDP (gross domestic product) jumped by more than expected in the third quarter, with a quarterly climb of 12.7%, according to preliminary data from the EU statistics office on Friday. The partial rebound from the previous quarter's pandemic-induced plunge was driven in large part by France, Italy and Spain. Meanwhile inflation for the bloc came in October was -0.3%, unchanged from the previous month.

European stocks received a weaker handover from Asia-Pacific, where markets suffered a third straight session of declines overnight as shares of Apple suppliers led the tech sector lower. The U.S. tech giant beat earnings expectations on Thursday but failed to offer any guidance for the fourth quarter, leaving investors uncertain as to the sales performance of the new iPhone 12.

On Wall Street, stocks fell as U.S. fiscal stimulus talks broke down, coronavirus cases rose and a slew of companies reported quarterly earnings.

Back in Europe, the European Central Bank on Thursday maintained its current monetary policy position but suggested it could take further action in December to stave off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, possibly eyeing an expansion to its bond-buying program.

In terms of individual share price action Friday, Ubisoft shares fell over 7% after the French video game company released its first-half results.

At the top of the European blue chip index, Proximus climbed 8% after the Belgian telecoms company beat third-quarter profit expectations and upgraded its guidance.