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Europe: Luxury stocks drive fifth day of gains

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A late turnaround helped European stocks notch gains for a fifth straight session on Friday, as signs of progress in US-China trade talks and upbeat reports from luxury goods makers dispelled some fears about an earnings and growth slowdown.

[BENGALURU] A late turnaround helped European stocks notch gains for a fifth straight session on Friday, as signs of progress in US-China trade talks and upbeat reports from luxury goods makers dispelled some fears about an earnings and growth slowdown.

After starting the day nearly flat and eventually falling as much as 0.4 per cent, the main European equities benchmark recovered to finish 0.2 per cent higher.

New York's S&P 500 surpassed its record closing high after CNBC reported that the United States and China were close to finalising parts of a trade pact, while the trade-sensitive German DAX rose 0.2 per cent.

France's CAC 40 outperformed major regional indexes as Gucci owner Kering jumped 8.7 per cent, while Italian jacket maker Moncler rose 11.3 per cent. The companies joined other luxury labels in easing fears of a major third quarter sales hit from protests in Hong Kong.

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Europe's retail index gained 1.2 per cent, leading gains among major subsectors.

The food and beverage sector led losses on Friday, however, after brewer AB InBev provided a cautious outlook and reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings growth, sparked by reduced demand for its beer in Brazil and South Korea.

Shares in Carlsberg and Heineken dropped about 2 per cent each.

"Today's moves seem to have trimmed some of the progress we have seen on the week," said Ken Odeluga, an analyst with City Index in London.

"You have a mechanical effect from that 10 per cent decline in AB InBev, but you can't really generalise. We may not see a stellar earnings season but with expectations so low there will be more beats for sure," Mr Odeluga added.

MORE WRANGLING

The prospect of months more wrangling over Brexit remained as the EU failed to set a date for Britain's departure from the bloc, while the UK parliament squabbled over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for an election to break the deadlock.

EU ambassadors agreed in principle to a delay beyond the Oct 31 deadline, but will not decide the length of the extension until Monday or Tuesday, an official said.

London's FTSE 100 fell for the first time in five sessions, while mid-caps and the pound weakened as Mr Johnson conceded for the first time on Thursday that he could not meet his Oct 31 Brexit deadline.

Despite uncertainties around trade and Brexit, the STOXX 600 closed the week with a gain of more than 1 per cent after a handful of industry heavyweights topped low market expectations.

The Swiss index, packed with defensive shares that have been favoured this year, hit a record high.

Shares in French tyre maker Michelin gained 6 per cent after it maintained its full-year profit guidance even as it cut its forecast again for the global tyre market.

German telecoms operator 1&1 Drillisch and its parent United Internet tanked after the former's request to review prices under an agreement with rival Telefonica Deutschland was rejected.

Offsetting those gains was a 16.2 per cent fall in shares of entertainment company Ubisoft, which lost roughly a quarter of its value after cutting its 2020 earnings guidance.

Among banks, Britain's Barclays rose 2.4 per cent after reporting higher than expected third-quarter earnings.

REUTERS