By Dave Morris
Most European markets cruised to a positive end to the week on encouraging U.S.-China trade news, though Germany was stung by further indications of a manufacturing slowdown.
How did markets perform?
Germany’s DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +1.33% /zigman2/quotes/210223310/composite DAX +2.42% index was down 0.1% to 11,981.3, despite a positive headline number for industrial production, as the underlying data solidified the consensus that the country’s manufacturing engine is sputtering. It had little effect on the index’s performance over the week, however, as it rose 1.7% Thursday marking four straight days of gains.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.26% was up 0.1% to 7,404.9 Friday, after closing down 0.2% Thursday.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0816% was $1.309, 0.1% higher on Friday after closing Thursday down 0.6%.
France’s CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +1.79% climbed 0.1% to 5,468.7, following its 0.1% decrease Thursday.
In Italy, the FTSE MIB /zigman2/quotes/210598024/delayed IT:I945 +0.28% improved 0.2% to 21,757.5, wiping out Thursday’s 0.2% loss.
The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.1272% was flat at $1.123, having declined 0.1% Thursday.
What’s moving the markets?
German industrial production in February rose 0.7% month over month, beating analysts’ projections of 0.5%. The data nonetheless confirmed recent reports that German manufacturing remains sluggish. More bearishly for Europe, a Bloomberg report confirmed recent stories in local media in Italy that the treasury was planning to downgrade expectations of 2019 economic growth to 0.1% from 1%.
Chinese Premier Liu He said trade talks with the U.S. had produced a “new consensus”, and U.S. President Donald Trump gave a rough timeline of six weeks before the deal could be completed, though he cited several issues left to be settled such as intellectual property. Bloomberg reported Friday that the U.S. had agreed not to seek to impose penalties for violations of the agreement until 2025, suggesting much of the compromise may have been on the American side of the negotiating table.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that if the U.K. Parliament ratifies a Brexit deal, he would push for a “flexible” extension into 2020, past the current April 11 deadline. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, meanwhile, has formally requested an extension to June 30, 2019. With cross-party Brexit talks continuing behind closed doors, and the U.K.’s senior chamber the House of Lords debating a bill seeking to force the prime minister to request an extension to the process from European leaders, Brexit watchers prepared to strap in for another week of ineffectual, noisy wrangling on both sides of the English Channel.
Which stocks are active?
Corporate news was relatively thin Friday. Among the fastest rising shares in the Stoxx 600 were those of The Drilling Company of 1972 A/S /zigman2/quotes/206767946/delayed DK:DRLCO +0.65% , which was spun out of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S /zigman2/quotes/202892434/delayed DK:MAERSK.B -3.35% and listed on the Copenhagen exchange Thursday. It was up 2.8%.
Commercial services firms led the declines, with German enterprise software firm SAP SE /zigman2/quotes/203458330/delayed DE:SAP +0.74% 1.8% lower, U.K. security company G4S PLC /zigman2/quotes/202248409/delayed UK:GFS -0.60% down 1.5% and U.K. outsourcing company Capita PLC /zigman2/quotes/204738740/delayed UK:CPI +5.11% also down 1.5%.