By Ambar Warrick
(Reuters) – European shares touched a record high on Friday after EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan struck a positive tone on talks with Washington, soothing some concerns over a possible escalation in trade tensions between the cross-Atlantic allies.
The pan STOXX 600 index () rose as much as 0.8% to a record high of 423.80, and was set to mark its best week since late-December.
Hogan said on Thursday that he had a good exchange of views with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington, underscoring Brussels’ desire to negotiate solutions for several open trade disputes between the United States and the EU.
The meeting is a step forward in addressing long-standing issues such as a French digital tax and aircraft subsidies.
It also added to investor optimism after the United States and China signed an interim trade deal earlier in the week.
“The positive comments surrounding one of the United States’ other trade conflicts – with the EU – it just adds to the overall feeling of relief,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at British financial spread better Spreadex.
Campbell also said that signs of improvement in the Chinese economy following an in-line GDP figure and strong industrial production data was helping risk appetite, with demand in the world’s second-largest economy looking to pick up in 2020.
The trade-sensitive miners subindex () was the best performer for the day, with BHP Group (L:), the world’s largest miner, and a major Chinese supplier, rising 1.2%.
Stocks in Germany (), the EU bloc’s largest economy, rose 0.7%, with technology stocks serving as the biggest boost. Germany, which has a largely export-reliant economy, stands to gain substantially from easing trade tensions.
Pharmaceuticals maker Bayer AG (DE:) rose 1.1% after a mediator told Bloomberg that the company was close to settling more than 75,000 claims related to its Roundup herbicide.
Automobile stocks (), which have been battered by laggard global demand, rose 1% with Finnish tyre maker Nokian Tyres (HE:) leading gains.
Polish videogame developer CD Projekt (WA:) was the biggest loser on the STOXX 600, dropping nearly 13% after it postponed the release of its widely awaited game Cyberpunk 2077.
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