European stocks rose slightly on Friday, as cautious optimism about U.S. employment numbers to be released later in the day prevailed over news that the fall of German industrial production in October proved worse than expected.
The Stoxx Europe 600 (TICKER:XX:SXXP) was up 0.4% to 404.26
The U.K. FTSE 100 (TICKER:U.K.:UKX) led other European indexes, up 0.51% to 7174.13. The spotlight was on life insurer Phoenix Group (TICKER:PHNX.LN), which agreed to acquire rival ReAssure from SwissRe (TICKER:SREA.EB) for £3.2 billion, to be paid in cash and shares.
Phoenix Group shares rose 0.5% to 7.46 on the news. Chief Executive Clive Bannister said in a statement that the deal is expected to “contribute £7 billion of incremental cash generation and give [Phoenix] the opportunity to capture significant cost and capital synergies.”
SwissRe shares rose 2.8% to CHF 108.75
Germany’s DAX (TICKER:DX:DAX) index rose 0.24% to 13.085.96, despite newly-released numbers showing German industrial production in October fell 1.7% from September and 5.3% from the year before, according to the Federal Statistics Office — the biggest drop in 10 years.
This was mostly the result of a steep fall in the production of capital goods, the direct result of global uncertainties over possible trade wars, which has seen businesses shrink or delay their investment plans. But the Munich-based Ifo economic institute said that it expected the fall in industrial output to “decline somewhat more slowly” in the months to come than was previously expected.
The pound fell 0.24% against the dollar and 0.20% against the euro, after surging to two-year highs on Thursday following polls pointing to a Conservative Party victory in the U.K. general elections on December 12.