European markets traded higher on Wednesday, as investors track positive mood music around U.S.-China trade talks and promising consumer confidence figures out of France.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 added just over 0.4% to hit a four-year high, basic resources leading the way with 1.4% gains while travel and leisure stocks slid 0.2% lower.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Washington and Beijing were in the “final throes” of talks aimed at securing a trade deal, though the U.S. leader also expressed his administration’s support for protesters in Hong Kong, a particularly thorny issue for China at the moment.
Stocks stateside closed at record highs following Trump’s comments. In Asia, markets climbed on the back of optimism around trade, with the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.2%.
As for data, fresh figures showed that Chinese industrial profits dropped for a third consecutive month in October.
In Europe, French consumer confidence data exceeded analyst expectations to hit 106 in November, its highest since June 2017 and up from 104 in October. The pleasant surprise offered a tailwind to cautious European stocks Wednesday morning.
Back in Europe, market participants kept a close watch on the latest political developments out of the U.K., as the country heads for a fresh set of elections on Dec. 12.
Britain’s two main political parties have become embroiled in a debate over religious prejudice. The opposition Labour party was accused by the chief rabbi of failing to tackle anti-Semitism seriously, while a Muslim group said the ruling Conservative party has an Islamophobia problem.
In corporate news, Reuters reports that Lufthansa is in final talks to complete the sale of its European catering operations to Swiss firm Gategroup.
In terms of individual stocks, UDG Healthcare rose 6.5% after reporting positive full-year results on Tuesday, while SEB added 3.5% after the Swedish bank announced that it had found no evidence of alleged links between the bank and companies sanctioned for involvement in Russian tax fraud.
Author: Elliot Smith