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Europe: Stocks climb as deal talk outweighs trade fears

[BENGALURU] European shares reversed course to end in positive territory on Thursday, with deal-making news in Germany helping to prop up the pan-European benchmark as it overcame fears of an escalation in the US-China trade war.

The STOXX 600 index rose 1.3 per cent to a 10-day closing peak after shrugging off early weakness triggered by the White House imposing severe sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei late on Wednesday.

Rabobank market economist Stefan Koopman said that US-China tensions have already been priced in and markets are more focused on the trade situation between Europe and the United States.

The latest Huawei sanctions helped rivals Ericsson and Nokia to advance by 2.1 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

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Paris-traded stocks rose 1.4 per cent, matched by the Milan benchmark while London-listed equities firmed by 0.8 per cent.

Germany's DAX jumped by 1.7 per cent for a third consecutive daily gain, though tariff-sensitive automotive shares did not contribute. The gains in Frankfurt were mainly driven by news of corporate deals.

Thyssenkrupp soared with a 9.4 per cent advance after Reuters reported that Finland's Kone might bid for the German group's elevator division. Kone shares added 5 per cent.

Lighting group Osram Licht gained 5.3 per cent to 28.80 euros after it said that talks with Bain and Carlyle were continuing. German magazine Boerse Online said the private equity groups could bid with an offer price of 35 euros per share.

Basic materials stocks rose by 1.6 per cent, with Norsk Hydro up 4.9 per cent after a Brazilian federal court lifted one of two production embargoes on a plant owned by the Norwegian metals producer.

Nestle was up 1.8 per cent at a record closing high. The Swiss group said it entered exclusive talks to sell its skin health business to a consortium led by private equity firm EQT Partners in a deal worth 10.2 billion Swiss francs (S$13.9 billion).

If it goes through, the deal will be the second-largest private equity-backed deal in Europe since the financial crisis, Refinitiv data shows, and comes as the food group shifts its portfolio in response to changing consumer demands.

Automakers and their suppliers fared less well, shedding 0.5 per cent after the previous session's 2 per cent gain.

French video games group Ubisoft Entertainment, meanwhile, slumped by 12.7 per cent after fourth-quarter results missed market forecasts.