By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets edged higher in cautious trading Friday, helped by growth in China’s service sector as well as renewed confidence of a U.S. stimulus package but with coronavirus worries ever present.
At 3:45 AM ET (0745 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.1% higher, the in France rose 0.4% and the U.K.’s index climbed 0.4%.
Earlier Friday, China’s Index rose to 54.8 in September, against August’s reading of 54, remaining in positive territory for a fifth consecutive month, suggesting the second largest economy in the world is quickly returning to health.
However, the economic news was less impressive in Europe.
Britain’s economy grew much more slowly than expected in August, with rising by just 2.1% from July, its slowest month-on-month increase since the economy began its recovery in May.
Additionally, French rose 1.3% in August from July, increasing at a much slower pace than in previous months, data from France’s statistics agency Insee showed Friday.
Worries about the coronavirus continue to haunt the European markets, particularly after the World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Thursday, led by a surge of infections in Europe.
More French cities are set to close bars in the coming days as Covid-19 infections spike, a move Berlin is set to adopt as Germany’s capital has one of the worst outbreaks in the country. In the U.K., some 17,540 new cases were logged Thursday, a rise of more than 3,000 from Wednesday.
Still, hopes of a coronavirus stimulus package are a boost to the markets with Democrat House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continuing efforts to reach a consensus.
In corporate news, Danish jewellery maker Pandora (OTC:) stock jumped 13% and German online fashion company Zalando SE (DE:) rose 4.6% and Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk (NYSE:) gained 3.3% after all raising their outlooks for 2020.
British brokerage TP ICAP (LON:) fell 1.3% after agreeing to buy electronic trading network Liquidnet Holdings for up to $700 million, in a deal that will be partly funded via a $425 million rights issue.
Oil prices edged higher Friday, continuing a week of strong gains on the prospect of tighter supply given a strike in Norway, the world’s third largest exporter of oil and gas, and the approach of Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico.
futures traded 0.2% higher at $41.28 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract rose 0.3% to $43.46. Both contracts are on course for gains of around 10% this week.
Elsewhere, rose 1.2% to $1,917.65/oz, while traded 0.1% higher at 1.1773.