Europe stocks slightly higher amid report of US-China trade breakthrough
European shares traded slightly higher on Thursday as growth fears offset substantial gains on trade developments.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index hovered around the flatline in early afternoon deals, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
Investors monitored news of progress in U.S.-Sino trade negotiations. According to report, China has offered “unprecedented” proposals to allay U.S. concerns over forced technology transfers. Officials from both countries are due to meet for a fresh round of discussions on Thursday.
But equities were under pressure amid jitters over a slowdown in economic growth. Bond markets have in the past week signaled a U.S. recession may be coming, with the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield recently falling below that of the 3-month bill, in what is known as a yield curve inversion.
Looking at individual stocks, Evotec climbed to the top of the pan-European benchmark after it gave a positive outlook for 2019. The biotechnology firm said it saw adjusted earnings improving by 10 percent this year. Shares rose by around 4 percent.
Bayer stock fell after a U.S. jury said the pharmaceuticals giant should pay a claimant $80 million after allegations its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused his cancer. Shares of the company dropped more than 1 percent.
Swedbank was among the biggest fallers as the embattled lender faces a probe into alleged money laundering. The firm dismissed its CEO Birgitte Bonnesen on Thursday morning. The stock fell around 4 percent to its lowest level since September 2013 but were then halted.
In Europe, the fate of Brexit looked as uncertain as ever. British Prime Minister Theresa May offered to resign if her twice-defeated withdrawal deal was finally passed by Parliament, in a move that failed to impress some hardline Brexiteers and Northern Ireland’s DUP party.
Meanwhile, U.K. lawmakers voted on a number of Brexit alternatives overnight, none of which gained majority support, producing further doubt as to whether Britain will manage to break an impasse to get a Brexit agreement through Parliament.
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