By Barbara Kollmeyer
European stocks rose on Friday, with investors looking past some negative coronavirus headlines and a U.S. spat between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.30% rose 0.4% to 389.07 for a 1% weekly gain. The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.36% rose 0.3%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.19% was up 0.3%, and the FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.30% rose 0.3%. The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD -0.0411% was flat at $1.1871.
U.S. stocks opened lower, a day after gaining in the final hours of trading on Thursday, amid fresh fiscal stimulus hopes.
Some stimulus-deal optimism was dented after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday declined to extend emergency loan programs that were set up with the Fed and due to expire at the end of the year. The Fed voiced its objection in a statement that followed, displaying a rare public rift between the two.
Mnuchin also asked the Fed to return the unused funds to the Treasury so that they could be reappropriated.
The disagreement comes as the U.S. battles out-of-control infection rates, with California imposing a new curfew, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
In a setback for virus treatments, a World Health Organization panel recommended against doctors using biotech Gilead Sciences’ /zigman2/quotes/210293917/composite GILD +2.08% drug remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients, saying it “has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes.”
There was some upbeat news for Europe, though, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccine candidates from drugmaker Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +0.77% and partner BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.68% and biotech Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -0.07% could receive conditional marketing authorization by mid December.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they plan to ask U.S. health regulators on Friday to permit use of their vaccine candidate.
And Reuters reported that the European Union could pay over $10 billion to buy doses of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and German biopharmaceutical CureVac /zigman2/quotes/219999729/composite CVAC +3.66% .
Still, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, warned on Thursday that the continent faces a difficult six months ahead, with the region accounting for 28% of global cases and 26% of deaths. That is as EU leaders failed to progress on a mega stimulus package on Thursday that has been stalled due to a veto by Poland and Hungary .
High-level post-Brexit talks continued on Friday, though they moved to a virtual setting after a member of the EU’s negotiation team tested positive for COVID-19 . The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, but the two sides need to reach a deal over their future trading relationship before the transition period ends on Dec. 31.
On the data front, retail sales in the U.K. rose in October for the sixth consecutive month, despite a surge in infections.
“Despite strong revs growth, higher investments and £17 million of bad debt provisioning has invariably resulted in a weaker performance in org. operating profit,” said a team of analysts at Jefferies led by Paul Kratz, in a note to clients.
Shares of Smurfit Kapp /zigman2/quotes/208768615/delayed IE:SK3 +0.54% fell nearly 3%. The U.K.-based paper and packaging company said it has raised €660 million ($783.7 million) in a share placing to accelerate investment.
Major oil companies provided support for the main Europe index, with Royal Dutch Shell rising over 1%, as crude oil prices /zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed CL.1 -0.39% rose modestly on Friday.