By Barbara Kollmeyer
Europe's core stock markets closed mostly higher Friday, boosted by strength in auto shares but limited by weakness in banks.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed up 0.1% at 276.19, its highest closing since late September 2008. It was the fourth day in a row that the index achieved a multiyear closing high.
U.S. stocks also traded slightly higher as U.S. consumer confidence rose and as investors took in some deal news. Data also showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in October.
Autos were in the spotlight in Europe after German auto group Volkswagen /zigman2/quotes/206736865/delayed DE:VOW +1.31% reported a 12.7% rise in vehicle deliveries to 6.59 million in the first 11 months of the year.
"We will be well above last year's level and anticipate annual deliveries of more than seven million vehicles for the first time," said group board member Christian Klingler in a statement Friday.
In Frankfurt, Volkswagen closed up 3.9%, while BMW /zigman2/quotes/209548467/delayed DE:BMW +2.04% added 3.9% and Daimler /zigman2/quotes/205332368/delayed DE:DAI +0.80% gained 3%, helping to lift the DAX 30 index back above 7000 to its highest close since June 2008. The index rose 0.6% to 7006.17 for a weekly gain of 0.8%.
In Paris, Peugeot /zigman2/quotes/202678611/composite UG -0.72% and Renault gained 1% and 0.8%, respectively, but the French CAC 40 index closed down 0.02% at 3857.35, as financial stocks dropped. Société Générale fell 0.7%, and AXA slipped 1.1%. The index added 2.9% for the week.
In London, the FTSE 100 index ended the session up 0.1% at 5812.95, for a weekly gain of 1.2%. However, Standard Chartered fell 2.6%, a day after the bank warned of rising costs.
The declines came as the Committee of European Banking Supervisors finalized its guidelines on banker pay and bonuses, which include a requirement that top earners receive no more than 20% of their bonus in cash up front.
Stock trading was also influenced by a decision by the People's Bank of China to raise the required reserve ratio by a further 0.5 percentage point, effective Dec. 20. The announcement fell short of the increase to benchmark interest rates that the markets had been expecting, although analysts weren't ruling out a weekend move.
"The 'economic work meeting' which gathers senior officials to discuss policy is thought to be continuing until Sunday. It may be that the People's Bank [of China] has chosen to defer a symbolically more significant move on interest rates until those discussions have concluded," said Capital Economics.
China's November trade data on Friday showed imports and exports both hitting records, with the trade surplus narrowing to $22.9 billion from $27.15 billion in October.
Signs of the strong economy helped miners rise. Xstrata added 1.5%, Vedanta Resources gained 3.2% and Fresnillo rose 1%.
Elsewhere, German personal-care products maker Beiersdorf /zigman2/quotes/210479173/delayed DE:BEI +1.79% fell 5.2% after lowering its earnings outlook for 2010 for the second time this year. Additional costs from investments in the company's skin and body care brands weighed on earnings.
The European Commission launched an investigation into possible cartel activities by a number of cement manufacturers in Europe. While it didn't name the companies involved, Switzerland-based Holcim /zigman2/quotes/200284171/delayed CH:HOLN +0.27% and Germany's HeidelbergCement /zigman2/quotes/202418791/delayed DE:HEI +0.19% were among those that said they were being investigated. HeidelbergCement said an internal investigation didn't show up any malpractice. Holcim declined to comment on what was an "ongoing procedure."
HeidelbergCement was off 2.5% while Holcim was up 0.5%.
Among other big movers in Europe, shares in satellite-navigation-equipment maker TomTom jumped 7.3% after its stock was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at UBS.
In economic news, French industrial production fell an unexpected 0.8% in October compared with the month earlier, as did Italian industrial output in October. In the U.K., annual factory gate price inflation eased unexpectedly in November due to a smaller year-to-year increase in petroleum prices.
In Asia, stock markets ended mostly lower Friday. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average ended down 0.7%.
In the currency market, the euro was trading at $1.3227, down from $1.3243 late Thursday in New York. Treasury yields were higher, while gold and oil prices slipped.
Write to Barbara Kollmeyer at Barbara.Kollmeyer@dowjones.com