(Reuters) – European stocks edged higher on Friday as gains in commodity and retail shares offset worries about U.S. politics and an impasse over fresh stimulus measures to support a pandemic-stricken global economy.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4% and was on track for marginal weekly gain after signs of progress on COVID-19 vaccine pushed the index to February highs earlier this week.
Energy stocks were among the top gainers as oil prices steadied, putting them on course for a third straight weekly rise on prospects of an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Miners also jumped over 1% on stronger metal prices.
Global mood remained subdued after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said key pandemic lending programs at the Federal Reserve would expire on Dec. 31, putting the outgoing Trump administration at odds with the central bank.
“European markets are a bit fatigued with 2020,” said Keith Temperton, a sales trader at Forte Securities. “Any more upside will come only when physical cash enters markets through stimulus measures.”
The benchmark STOXX 600 has gained nearly 40% from its March lows on the back of stimulus measures and hopes of a vaccine, but is still 10% below its all-time high.
UK’s FTSE 100 found some support as retail sales bounced in October and British health minister said there were encouraging signs that virus cases were starting to flatten.
The retail index rose 0.9% and was among the top gainers.
German fashion e-tailer Zalando rose 1.4% after its chief financial officer forecast an acceleration in growth next year.
Italy’s BPER Banca rose 2.3% after its top investor threw its weight behind the idea of a merger with rival Banco BPM.
French shopping mall groups Unibail and Klepierre edged higher after Amazon said it would postpone its “Black Friday” discount shopping sales in France to Dec. 4.
British software company Sage plunged 10.9% after reporting a 3.7% decline in full-year organic operating profit.
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