By Mark Cobley
European stocks were holding near month-long highs on Friday morning, having now made up all their losses since global markets plunged in early August on mounting trade-war fears. Investors were cheered overnight by positive data on the U.S. economy and the Trump Administration’s plans to resume negotiations with China.
Among the region’s individual markets, Germany’s DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.35% was the strongest gainer, rising 0.3% in early trading, despite continuing indications the country’s economy may be weakening. Poor July data for the country’s total industrial production on Friday followed similarly lackluster numbers on manufacturing the day before.
With German exporters starkly exposed to uncertainty over trade, stock investors may be hopeful that the latest move to restart U.S.-China talks will end up boosting Europe’s largest economy.
Elsewhere, there was a slight fall for Italy’s FTSE MIB index /zigman2/quotes/210598024/delayed IT:I945 -0.52% , while France’s CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -0.23% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 were treading water. Investors are awaiting a key indicator of the health of the U.S. economy, the August jobs report, with economists predicting unemployment will stick near 50-year lows.
The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD -0.0085% was also flat against the U.S. dollar, while the British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0467% fell back 0.3% following a week of gains, as several defeats for Britain’s government meant the prospect of a rapid, disorderly EU exit on October 31 appeared to recede.
Among individual stocks, Paris-listed catering group Sodexo /zigman2/quotes/206443022/delayed FR:SW -3.19% was one of the region’s biggest fallers today, slumping more than 4% after analysts at Barclays downgraded the stock. Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor /zigman2/quotes/202494499/delayed NO:TEL +2.26% also slid more than 4%, after it confirmed that a potential deal to merge its Asian operations with rival Axiata was off.
Shares in U.K.-listed security group G4S /zigman2/quotes/202248409/delayed UK:GFS -0.03% , meanwhile, soared almost 9% on a report that the U.S.-listed Brinks Company is planning a £1bn bid for part of the business. British network Sky News said the two firms are in talks but other bidders might yet emerge.