European markets finish on an upbeat note as autos, miners climb

Europe’s automakers and miners were the top performing sectors on Friday, with both industries rising some 1 percent or more each. Sentiment was boosted for both groups on signs that trade tensions could be easing. Overnight gains seen in Asia and a solid performance on Wall Street also provided a boost to European stocks.

Looking at individual stocks, Britain’s Investec surged to the top of the European benchmark, closing up 8.35 percent, following news the company had announced plans to hive off and separately list its asset management unit. The strategic overhaul comes ahead of the departure of the firm’s founder and boss next month.

Sticking with top performers, Shire rose over 2 percent after Takeda Pharmaceutical announced that it had received clearance in China for its proposed acquisition of the London-listed biotech firm.

At the other end, Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch operator of grocery chains in the United States and Europe, slumped to the bottom of the index, finishing down 4.4 percent, after UBS slashed its stock recommendation to “sell” from “neutral.”

Danske Bank closed in the red, after the Wall Street Journal reported, citing documents and a person familiar with the matter, that law enforcement agencies in the States were investigating the lender over allegations of money laundering flows from Russia and former Soviet states.

Meantime, JD Wetherspoon fell 1.3 percent after publishing its latest financial figures Friday. In the report, the group said it had a reasonable start to the current financial year, but added that it expects higher costs this year.

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