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Europe: Shares steady as trade talks prompt caution

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[LONDON] European shares were steady on Friday as investors were cautious after the latest round of US-China trade talks yielded no breakthrough.

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the session up 0.1 per cent, in a thinner-than-usual market in terms of volume.

"Markets are not very directional today," wrote ActivTrades analyst Pierre Veyret, noting that "the US and China have disappointed investors".

US and Chinese officials ended two days of talks on Thursday with no major breakthrough, following the implementation of a fresh round of tariffs.

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The STOXX 600 also gave up some gains immediately after the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that more rate hikes were likely if the US economy stayed strong.

Miners, banks and cars led gainers.

Autos rose 0.6 per cent, after being among the worst-performing sector earlier in the week since a surprise profit warning from tyre maker Continental, which added to ongoing concerns around tariffs.

Basic materials rose 1.5 per cent as London copper prices jumped. Antofagasta was a top gainer, rising 3.6 per cent.

Irish construction company Kingspan was among the top performers, with its shares jumping 9.3 per cent in what was its best day in a year after first half results.

Shares in Danish medical equipment maker recovered from a 12 per cent fall on Thursday following a disappointing trading update and were up 9.5 per cent.

Britain's Shire added more than 2 per cent after the US Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to treat patients suffering from hereditary angioedema, a hereditary disease that causes swelling in different parts of the body.

Among smaller companies, Swiss semiconductor maker U-Blox sank nearly 18 per cent after it cut its guidance for the year, with traders flagging its China business as particularly disappointing.

REUTERS