European markets mixed as US and China push back timing of a possible deal; Saipem shares rise 4%


European stocks were mixed Friday morning, as the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks ended without any meaningful conclusions.


Europe’s basic resources stocks — with their heavy exposure to China — led the gains, up around 0.5 percent during early morning deals. It comes after President Donald Trump said Thursday that Washington and Beijing were making swift progress in trade talks, adding “we’ll know over the next four weeks” whether an agreement can be reached.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said a new consensus had been reached by both parties over the text of a deal, official state news agency Xinhua reported.

Looking at individual stocks, Italy’s Saipem surged towards the top of the European benchmark after reportedly securing offshore drilling contracts in Norway and the Middle East for a total of $200 million. Shares of the Milan-listed stock rose over 4 percent on the news.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Hammerson slumped towards the bottom of the index. It comes after Jefferies and Stifel both cut their target price for the real-estate company, with the latter also downgrading its stock recommendation to “sell” from “hold.” Shares of Hammerson slipped over 3 percent.

Growth concerns

Despite the positive news around trade, investors grew nervous amid worries over a potential economic slowdown in the euro zone.

Data released on Thursday showed that German factory orders fell at their sharpest rate in two years. Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report said the Italian government is set to cut its 2019 GDP (gross domestic product) forecast to just 0.1 percent — significantly lower than a 1 percent expansion forecast in December.

Elsewhere, traders will likely keep a close watch on upcoming U.S. non-farm payrolls due to be released in the afternoon.

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