European markets close higher to cap wild week

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From David Reid: European stocks recovered some ground Friday, after slumping to a two-year low in the previous session but significant gains were capped by lack of thrust from Wall Street and Asia.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up over 0.7 percent, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Europe’s tech stocks were among the top performers, up around 2 percent as worries of a fresh flare-up in tensions between the world’s two largest economies cooled. The arrest of Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver on Wednesday had threatened to derail progress in U.S.-Sino trade talks. However, tech stocks pared losses Friday, with Nokia and Ericsson both trading more than 3 percent higher.

Looking at individual stocks, Britain’s Tesco surged towards the top of the European benchmark after Exane BNP Paribas raised its stock recommendation to “neutral” from “underperform.” Shares of the London-listed stock were up around 4.1 percent on the news.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Fresenius SE tumbled to the bottom of the index after the healthcare group slashed its medium-term guidance late Thursday. The company cited lower profit expectations at its dialysis arm FMC and clinics chain Helios, Reuters reported. Shares of the group tanked 17.7 percent.

Jobs report misses

Stateside, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy was doing very well, shortly before the release of November employment data.

Stocks traded lower on Friday as shares of major technology companies move lower while Wall Street parsed through the U.S. jobs report that missed expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 200 points, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1 percent.

Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet all traded lower. Apple’s stock also fell 1.5 percent after Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the tech giant’s shares, citing weakening iPhone sales.

Back in Europe, Germany could be about to find out who is likely to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as the country’s largest and dominant political party holds a crucial election on Friday.

In October, Merkel announced she would not run for the post and has effectively started to wind down her political career.

Elsewhere, Denmark’s Danske Bank is scheduled to hold an extraordinary general meeting to elect a new chairman and vice chairman Friday afternoon. It comes after the bank’s largest shareholder ousted the head of Dankse Bank’s board this month following a money laundering scandal.

In energy markets, oil prices added to recent losses Friday morning as OPEC delayed a decision over output cuts. The influential cartel and its allied oil-producing nations are set to debate the terms of production cuts in Vienna, Austria on Friday.

The Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK) was trading at $49.73 per share on Friday afternoon, down $0.42 (-0.84%). Year-to-date, VGK has declined -15.51%, versus a -0.36% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

VGK currently has an ETF Daily News SMART Grade of B (Buy), and is ranked #32 of 91 ETFs in the European Equities ETFs category.

This article is brought to you courtesy of CNBC.