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Europe: Shares rise on trade talks optimism; Michelin inflates autos

[LONDON] European shares closed higher on Tuesday as investors cheered positivity around US-China trade talks and signs of a compromise to avoid another US government shutdown, while Michelin's results pumped up automotive stocks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.5 per cent, with Germany's trade-sensitive DAX advancing 1 per cent and Paris' CAC 40 up 0.8 per cent.

Automakers and their suppliers were the biggest gainers, up 2.9 per cent after Michelin delivered better than expected results and pledged further gains in operating profit this year despite challenging conditions.

The French tyre maker's shares rallied 13 per cent for their best day in nearly a decade.

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Italy's Pirelli and Germany's Continental were among the biggest gainers in their domestic markets and on the Stoxx 600.

London indices underperformed their euro zone peers as the pound rose slightly after a parliamentary address by British Prime Minister Theresa May, in which she asked for more time to secure a Brexit deal.

Gucci owner Kering was another winner, with its shares turning positive in mid-morning trade as investors took comfort from upbeat comments on the first-quarter outlook.

Its shares had fallen as much as 3.3 per cent in early trade as better than expected sales initially failed to impress investors in a sign of the demanding expectations for luxury brands after solid numbers from the sector, including LVMH last week. The shares closed with a 3.3 per cent gain.

Thyssenkrupp fell 2 per cent after a mixed earnings report. The German steel-to-elevator company stood by its 2018/19 targets but reported a big drop in first-quarter results and warned that the global economic environment is darkening.

Investors continued to punish TUI as the tour operator reported a widening loss in the three months to Dec 31. Shares fell another 5.4 per cent after its profit warning last week.

Online trading platform Plus500 lost about 30 per cent of its value after the company issued a profit and revenue warning, blaming tightening EU regulation on its retail business. The news dragged peer IG with it.

Credit Suisse said it was shifting to a "neutral" stance on global equities, taking profit on its "overweight" view.

"While we continue to expect overall attractive total returns from global equities this year, we recognise certain mounting short-term risks," it said.

"In particular, we note that investors remain thin-skinned after last December's correction."

Furthermore, the US-China trade conflict could lead to renewed volatility while growing political tensions in Italy, France and Germany and the still uncertain Brexit outcome could weigh further on European stocks, the bank said.

REUTERS